law-subject-matter-jurisdiction-lacking | motion to dismiss for want of subject-matter jurisdiction | mootness |
standing doctrine | live controversy | ripeness doctrine | dismissal for lack of jurisdiction
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION - CASELAW SNIPPETS
“Subject matter jurisdiction exists when the nature of the case falls within a general category of cases the court
is empowered, under applicable statutory and constitutional provisions, to adjudicate.” In re Barnes, 127 S.W.
3d 843, 846 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2003, orig. proceeding) (quoting McGuire v. McGuire, 18 S.W.3d 801,
804 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2000, no pet.)). Texas district courts are courts of general jurisdiction and are
presumed to have subject matter jurisdiction over all matters unless the Texas Constitution or another statute
confers exclusive jurisdiction elsewhere. See TEX. CONST., art. V, § 8; TEX. GOV’T CODE ANN. § 24.007
(West 2004); In re Entergy Corp., 142 S.W.3d 316, 322 (Tex. 2004). Jurisdiction is vested in a court, not in a
particular individual. See Stine v. State, 935 S.W.2d 443, 444 (Tex. App.—Waco 1996, pet. ref’d) (“Jurisdiction
is the authority conferred upon a court by the constitution and laws of the state which allows a court to
adjudicate litigants’ rights and render a judgment.”).
Subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be waived, and it may be raised at any point in the
proceeding. Alfonso v. Skadden, 251 S.W.3d 52, 55 (Tex. 2008) (per curiam); OAIC Commercial Assets, L.L.
C. v. Stonegate Village, L.P., 234 S.W.3d 726, 735 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2007, pet. denied).
Subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be waived, and can be raised at any time. Univ. of Tex.
Sw. Med. Ctr. at Dallas v. Loutzenhiser, 140 S.W.3d 351, 358 (Tex. 2004). Because the trial court lacked
subject-matter jurisdiction to enter the custody provisions in the 1999 divorce decree, it properly refused to
enforce that portion of the decree here.
Appellant contends the trial court erred in dismissing the case for want of jurisdiction because appellees
admitted in their responses to requests for admission that the court had jurisdiction. We disagree; subject-
matter jurisdiction cannot be conferred by judicial admission. In re A.C.S., 157 S.W.3d 9, 15 (Tex. App.-Waco
2004, no pet.).
Appellees asserted in their plea to the jurisdiction that the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because,
inter alia, appellant lacked standing to protest the taxes assessed on the property and he failed to follow the
exclusive procedures for appealing the appraisal review board's action, including failing to timely file his appeal
in district court.
Subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be waived, and it may be raised at any point in the proceeding. Alfonso v.
Skadden, 251 S.W.3d 52, 55 (Tex. 2008) (per curiam); OAIC Commercial Assets, L.L.C. v. Stonegate Village, L.
P., 234 S.W.3d 726, 735 (Tex. App.- Dallas 2007, pet. denied). “Whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction
is a question of law.” Tex. Dep't of Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 226 (Tex. 2004); see also Tex.
Natural Res. Conservation Comm'n v. IT-Davy, 74 S.W.3d 849, 855 (Tex. 2002). “When a plea to the
jurisdiction challenges the pleadings, we determine if the pleader has alleged facts that affirmatively
demonstrate the court's jurisdiction to hear the cause.” Miranda, 133 S.W.3d at 226. “We construe the
pleadings liberally in favor of the plaintiff and look to the pleader's intent.” Id.; see Dallas Cent. Appraisal Dist.
v. 1420 Viceroy Ltd. P'ship, 180 S.W.3d 267, 269 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2005, no pet.) (“[W]e liberally construe the
pleadings in favor of jurisdiction, focusing on the pleader's intent.”). “If the pleadings do not contain sufficient
facts to affirmatively demonstrate the trial court's jurisdiction but do not affirmatively demonstrate incurable
defects in jurisdiction, the issue is one of pleading sufficiency and the plaintiffs should be afforded the
opportunity to amend.” Miranda, 133 S.W.3d at 226-27 (citing County of Cameron v. Brown, 80 S.W.3d 549,
555 (Tex. 2002)). “If the pleadings affirmatively negate the existence of jurisdiction, then a plea to the
jurisdiction may be granted without allowing the plaintiffs an opportunity to amend.” Id. at 227.
BERNARD DOLENZ v. DALLAS CENTRAL APPRAISAL DISTRICT AND DALLAS COUNTY APPRAISAL REVIEW
BOARD; from Dallas County; 5th district (05‑07‑00885‑CV, 259 SW3d 331, 06‑30‑08)(subject-matter
jurisdiction, property tax appeal, administrative remedies, timeliness) In this ad valorem tax case, Bernard
Dolenz appeals the trial court's judgment dismissing his claims against the Dallas Central Appraisal District and
the Dallas County Appraisal Review Board for want of subject-matter jurisdiction.
Appellees assert appellant failed to comply with section 42.21 of the Tax Code. Section 42.21 requires a party
bringing an appeal of an appraisal review board decision to file a petition for review in district court within forty-
five days after the party received notice that a final appealable order was entered. Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 42.21
(a) (Vernon 2008). The failure to file the petition for review timely deprives the trial court of jurisdiction over the
claim. Appraisal Rev. Bd. v. Int'l Church of Foursquare Gospel, 719 S.W.2d 160, 160 (Tex. 1986) (per curiam);
Gregg County Appraisal Dist. v. Laidlaw Waste Sys., Inc., 907 S.W.2d 12, 16 (Tex. App.-Tyler 1995, writ
LAWRENCE EDWARD THOMPSON v. JOSE ALISEDA AND RISSIE OWENS; from Bee County; 13th district (13-
08-00417-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 01-29-09, pet. denied June 2009)(Tex.App.- Corpus Christi, Jan. 29, 2009, pet.
denied June 2009) (prisoner suit, pro se litigant, no jurisdiction over claim, habeas corpus)
Subject matter jurisdiction is an essential part of the authority of a court to decide a case, and it is never to be
presumed and cannot be waived. Tex. Ass'n of Bus. v. Tex. Air Control Bd., 852 S.W.2d 440, 443-44 (Tex.
1993). The reviewing court determines whether subject matter jurisdiction exists as a question of law, subject to
de novo review. Mayhew v. Town of Sunnyvale, 964 S.W.2d 922, 928 (Tex. 1998).