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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Norris Devoll appeals the denial of his petition for excess tax proceeds and the trial court’s issuance of a prefiling order prohibiting him from filing any future pro se lawsuits in this state. The state of Texas, county of Bexar, and Somerset Independent School District (the “Taxing Authorities”) filed suit against David De Los Santos for unpaid taxes. De Los Santos failed to answer the suit and a default judgment was entered against him. De Los Santos’s property was sold at a sheriff’s sale and his unpaid taxes were paid from the proceeds of the sale. Excess proceeds in the amount of $11,152.55 were generated from the sale of the property. Shortly after the property was sold, Norris Devoll contacted De Los Santos to acquire De Los Santos’s interest in the excess proceeds from the tax sale. De Los Santos agreed to convey his interest to Devoll; however, the assignment agreement executed by De Los Santos was invalid because it did not comply with the requirements of the Texas Tax Code. Following the attempted assignment, De Los Santos filed his own petition for excess proceeds. Three months after De Los Santos filed his petition, De Los Santos again agreed to assign his claim to the excess tax proceeds to Devoll. Several weeks after De Los Santos assigned his rights to Devoll, the Taxing Authorities filed their own petition for excess proceeds. The Taxing Authorities claimed they were entitled to a portion of the excess proceeds because additional taxes had accrued on De Los Santos’s property between the time of the court’s judgment against him and the tax sale. Devoll eventually filed his own petition for excess proceeds based on his assignment agreement with De Los Santos. After Devoll filed his petition, the Taxing Authorities discovered that the Honorable Pat Boone declared Devoll to be a vexatious litigant in another case recently filed by Devoll. According to the Taxing Authorities, Judge Boone declared Devoll a vexatious litigant in Devoll v. Moreno, Cause No. 2001-CI-15139, pending in the 45th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas shortly before Devoll filed the current litigation. Based on Judge Boone’s vexatious litigant finding in the Moreno case, the Taxing Authorities moved the trial court to declare Devoll a vexatious litigant and require Devoll to obtain permission from the local administrative judge before filing, pro se, any new litigation. The trial court held a hearing on the parties’ petitions for excess proceeds and the Taxing Authorities’ vexatious litigant motion. At the hearing, neither Devoll nor De Los Santos disputed the Taxing Authorities’ right to $2,155.74 for unpaid property taxes. However, the parties did dispute the effect of Judge Boone’s earlier declaration that Devoll is a vexatious litigant. After hearing arguments on the issue, the trial court concluded Devoll should have obtained permission from the local administrative judge before filing his pro se petition for excess proceeds, because Judge Boone had previously declared Devoll a vexatious litigant. The court further concluded that, because Devoll is a vexatious litigant, Devoll should be prohibited from filing, pro se, any new litigation in a court in this state. The trial court denied Devoll’s petition for excess proceeds; awarded the Taxing Authorities $2,155.74 in excess proceeds; awarded De Los Santos $8,996.81 in excess proceeds; and entered a prefiling order requiring Devoll to seek permission from the local administrative judge before filing any future pro se lawsuit in this state. Devoll subsequently brought this appeal, claiming the trial court erred by: 1. finding he is a vexatious litigant and entering a prefiling order against him; and 2. denying his petition for excess proceeds and awarding De Los Santos $8,996.81. HOLDING:Affirmed in part and reversed in part. With respect to the trial court’s finding that Devoll is a vexatious litigant, the trial court based its finding on Judge Boone’s vexatious litigant finding in the Moreno case. The record, however, reveals that no evidence was offered to establish that the Moreno case and the instant case are “based on the same or substantially similar facts, transition [sic], or occurrence,” as is required by Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code 11.054(3). In the absence of any evidence establishing this statutory requirement, the trial court abused its discretion in relying on the Moreno order to declare Devoll to be a vexatious litigant in the instant case. Although 11.054 provides two other alternative grounds for finding a litigant to be vexatious, the Taxing Authorities never attempted to plead or prove the applicability of the alternative grounds, and the trial court did not base its ruling on these alternative grounds. The court holds the trial court erred by finding Devoll is a vexatious litigant in the instant litigation. The court decides whether the trial court erred by denying Devoll’s petition for excess proceeds based on his failure to obtain permission from the local administrative judge before filing his petition. 11.102(a). The court reviews the record and finds there is no evidence demonstrating that Devoll was required to obtain permission from the local administrative judge before filing his petition. The only evidence introduced at the hearing regarding Devoll’s status as a vexatious litigant concerns Judge Boone’s interlocutory order in Moreno. That order did not contain a prefiling requirement. Absent evidence indicating Devoll was required to seek permission from the local administrative judge before filing his petition for excess proceeds, the court holds the trial court erred by denying Devoll’s petition on this basis. OPINION:Catherine Stone, J.; Stone, Angelini and Marion, JJ.

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