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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In February 2003, Ricky Starts, an inmate, filed a pro se petition alleging injuries under the Texas Tort Claims Act. His pleading alleged essentially the same claims he had made in an earlier-filed case filed under a different cause number. The petition was dismissed as frivolous before service of process on the named defendants, and without a fact-finding hearing. Starks asked for findings of fact and conclusions of law 61 days after the judgment dismissing the case was signed. He filed an untimely notice of appeal, and this court notified him that the case would be dismissed, but gave him the chance to respond. In his response, Starks apparently wrongly believed the trial court’s dismissal had been in relation to his first-filed pleading, and that his February 2003 pleading had replaced that earlier case. However, Starks acknowledged that he received notice of the judgment dismissing that earlier case within 20 days of the signing of the judgment on his February 2003 pleading. HOLDING:Dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Noting that, even as a pro se petitioner, Starks is still bound by appropriate rules and timetables, the court finds that Starks’ request for findings of fact and conclusions of law did not extend the time for filing a notice of appeal because that request was filed too late. The court notices that Starks’ response contains language that indicates he is attempting to pursue a restricted appeal. Under Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 30, a party who did not participate in the hearing that resulted in the judgment complained of, and who did not timely file a post-judgment motion or request for findings of fact and conclusions of law, or a notice of appeal within the time permitted by T.R.App.P. 26.1(a), is allowed additional time to file a notice of appeal. The court points out that a restricted appeal is allowed only if: 1. the notice of appeal is filed within six months after the trial court signs the judgment; 2. by a party to the suit; 3. who did not participate in the hearing that resulted in the judgment complained of and did not timely file any post-judgment motions or requests for findings of fact and conclusions of law; and 4. error is apparent on the face of the record. The court finds Starks participated in the events leading to the dismissal of his case by filing various motions, affidavits, certified copies and witness statements. Though the trial court did not hold a hearing prior to dismissing Starks’ complaint as frivolous, the trial court’s action was appropriate under unique provisions applicable to inmate litigation. “Because the non-participation requirement is mandatory and jurisdictional, . . . when an appellate court determines that an appellant participated in the hearing that resulted in the judgment complained of, the appropriate action is to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.” OPINION:Campbell, J.; Quinn, Reavis and Campbell, JJ.

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