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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Attorneys, Liza Greene and Corey Mills (appellants), appeal a sanctions order signed by the trial court against them. On November 26, 2001, the trial court signed a final decree of divorce between Ronald Eugene Repine and Elizabeth Ann Pollard-Repine. Patsy Young, an appellee here, filed a motion for enforcement by contempt for failure to pay child support against Ronald. On July 1, 2003, Ronald filed a voluntary petition in bankruptcy. Attorney Corey Mills represented Ronald in the bankruptcy proceeding. Mills also represented Ronald in the family court until early August 2003, when Liza Greene became Ronald’s family law attorney. Margaret McClure represented Elizabeth in bankruptcy court and Young continued to represent Elizabeth in family court. The family court heard Ronald’s motion to suspend his incarceration. Although Elizabeth testified that she wanted Ronald released from jail, Young told the family court that she opposed Ronald’s release. The trial court denied Ronald’s motion on the basis that an Agreed Order Lifting Stay placed payment of Ronald’s other debts, including his attorney’s fees, before payment of the child support arrears. Elizabeth, as movant, and Ronald, as debtor, with the assistance of their counsel McClure, Mills, and Green, filed a “joint motion to enforce agreed order lifting stay and request for additional relief” in the bankruptcy court. The joint motion alluded that the family court had overstepped its bounds in refusing to release Ronald in light of the parties’ agreement that was reflected in the earlier order signed by the bankruptcy court, which lifted the stay as to Elizabeth. The bankruptcy court issued an order, providing that Young was to appear before the bankruptcy court and show cause why she should not be held in contempt for violating the bankruptcy stay. At that appearance, the bankruptcy court warned Young that she should take no action in pursuing her attorney’s fees against Ronald that would violate the bankruptcy stay. Young filed a motion in the family court to withdraw as Elizabeth’s counsel and a “Motion for Rule 13 Sanctions” against Mills, Greene, and McClure, for signing the Joint Motion filed in bankruptcy court. The family court granted Young’s motion to withdraw. The family court sanctioned Mills and Greene, but concluded that it did not have jurisdiction to sanction McClure. The family court based the sanctions against Mills and Green not only on Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 13, as had been pleaded by Young in her motion, but also on its inherent power to sanction and on violations of Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 10, the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and the Texas Lawyers Creed. HOLDING:The court reverses the family court’s “Order of Sanctions” and renders judgment that Young take nothing with regard to her claim for sanctions against Greene and Mills. Because they received notice that sanctions were sought only under Rule 13, the court agrees with appellants that the family court improperly relied on Chapter 10, the Disciplinary Rules, the Lawyers Creed, and its inherent power to impose sanctions. Furthermore, the family court improperly sanctioned appellants for their statements made at the bankruptcy court hearings because appellants had no notice that such conduct was under consideration for sanctions. Young’s Rule 13 sanctions request arose from appellants’ Joint Motion in which Young alleged that appellants made “defamatory” statements. Young did not allege any additional facts that would alert appellants that they were subject to sanctions pursuant to any statutory provision, rule, or legal theory other than Rule 13. To the contrary, Young’s motion asserted that the Joint Motion was “groundless,” “brought in bad faith,” and “brought for purposes of harassment.” Such allegations track the express language of Rule 13. Thus, the Motion for Rule 13 Sanctions did not provide appellants with sufficient notice to prepare a defense to sanctions that might be imposed under Chapter 10 or the family court’s inherent power to sanction for violations of the Disciplinary Rules, the Lawyers Creed, or any other rule or standard. Young also points out that her motion contained a general prayer for relief. The question is not whether appellants had notice of the particular “relief” that was awarded to Young; rather, it is a question of whether appellants were afforded notice of the bases for the sanctions imposed against them to enable them to mount an adequate defense. Young further contends that unpleaded and unnoticed bases for the sanctions award were tried by consent because evidence was presented at the sanctions hearing that went beyond the four corners of the Joint Motion. Young points out that appellants presented evidence regarding the events leading to the filing of the Joint Motion and what transpired in bankruptcy court. When evidence relevant to both a pleaded and an unpleaded issue has been admitted without objection, the doctrine of trial by consent should not be applied unless clearly warranted. appellants’ admission of evidence regarding the circumstances surrounding the filing of the Joint Motion is arguably relevant to both the pleaded Rule 13 sanctions and those sanctions that were based on unpleaded grounds. The court concludes that the record does not support Young’s contention that the unpleaded issues were tried by consent. The court also concludes that appellants received proper notice that the family court was considering sanctions against them under Rule 13 for signing the Joint Motion. Appellants did not receive proper notice with regard to any other ground for sanctions relied on by the family court in imposing sanctions. The court holds that the family court abused its discretion in sanctioning appellants based on Chapter 10 and its inherent power, including any sanctions imposed for violating the Disciplinary Rules and the Lawyers Creed. As in Mantri v. Bergman, 153 S.W.3d 715 (Tex. App. � Dallas 2005, pet. filed), the court concludes that the family court in this case did not have jurisdiction to impose Rule 13 sanctions concerning the Joint Motion filed in bankruptcy court. Any motion for sanctions seeking to have a filing in a federal bankruptcy court declared groundless, harassing, frivolous, or similarly so, should be brought in the bankruptcy court, not a state family court. OPINION:Laura Carter Higley, J.; Taft, Alcala and Higley,

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