Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Nov. 14, 2001, the state commenced a forfeiture action against Puckett’s real and personal property under Chapter 59 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which provides the statutory framework for civil forfeiture of contraband. On Dec. 6, 2001, Puckett moved for dismissal based on the State’s failure to file a lis pendens notice on the real property within three days of initiating the forfeiture proceeding as required by statute. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 59.04(g). On Dec. 10, 2001, the state filed the lis pendens notice. The forfeiture hearing took place on June 13, 2002. The trial court denied Puckett’s motion to dismiss and ordered forfeiture of the real property and several items of personal property. The court of appeals held that the state’s failure to timely file the lis pendens notice deprived the trial court of jurisdiction and accordingly reversed and remanded the portion of the trial court’s judgment ordering forfeiture of the real property. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered. The court of appeals did not properly consider the most important rule of statutory construction � that the court must give effect to legislative intent � elevating instead the principle that forfeiture statutes are to be strictly construed. Nothing in the statutory language, though, indicates that the Legislature intended the result that the court of appeals reached. While Article 59.04(l) does provide that forfeiture proceedings are not to proceed to hearing unless the court is satisfied that the state has complied with Article 59.04(g), the statute does not provide, as it easily could, that the consequence of noncompliance is dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. The statute’s language simply does not support the conclusion that forfeiture actions must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction if the state fails to timely file a lis pendens notice. Contrary to the court of appeals’ opinion, the principle that forfeitures are strictly construed does not prevent a court from considering the purpose of a statutory provision. A lis pendens notice protects the party with the claim against the real property [here the state], innocent purchasers, and those who take a security interest in the property. Notably, the purpose behind the lis pendens provision does not suggest that the Legislature intended to confer rights upon the person whose property is the subject of the forfeiture proceeding. The court finds no indication, in the statutory language or the purpose behind the provision, that the Legislature intended that noncompliance with Article 59.04(g) would result in dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. The court of appeals additionally erred by concluding that noncompliance with any procedural provision defeats a forfeiture action. The U.S. Supreme Court confronted a similar issue in United States v. James Daniel Good Real Prop., 510 U.S. 43 (1993), and drew a distinction between the time limits imposed by a statute of limitations and internal timing directives. The court finds this distinction persuasive and note that earlier Texas court of appeals’ decisions follow this distinction. Unlike the 30-day requirement in State v. Lot 10, Pine Haven Estates, 900 S.W.2d 400 (Tex. App. � Texarkana 1995, no writ), which constituted a statute of limitations, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 59.04(g) is merely an internal timing directive that does not act to deprive a court of jurisdiction. Puckett argues that valid seizure of real property does not occur until the filing of the lis pendens notice. However, compliance with Article 59.01(8) brings real property within the trial court’s reach. The court notes that Article 59.04(b) provides that a forfeiture action is commenced by filing a notice of seizure and intended forfeiture, indicating that, contrary to Puckett’s contention, the seizure of the property occurs prior to the requirement to file a lis pendens notice. OPINION:Per curiam.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.