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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: Grady H. Woods and Monroe Woods sued Mary Woods for conversion of personal property, and they sought partition of real property. The trial court signed an order setting out the interests of each party in the real property and ordering its partition. The order appointed commissioners to effect the partition. On April 30, 2002, the commissioners filed their recommendation for the property’s partition. The deadline for objecting to the commissioners’ report was May 30, 2002. Appellants filed their objections on July 15, 2002. The trial judge sent the parties a letter stating that “[i]n [his] opinion, when objections were not filed in the 30 days, the parties are deemed to have accepted the Report.” On May 12, 2003, the trial court signed a judgment adopting the commissioners’ report. The judgment did not dispose of the conversion claim. Three months later, the trial judge held a hearing to reconsider. Appellants’ attorney for the first time explained why he did not object timely to the commissioners’ report. He was unaware there was a time limit for objections; one client was working out of town in the oil field; and one client did not have a telephone. Monroe testified he thought the commissioners’ report should not be accepted because he had invested a significant amount of labor and money in improving the house on one of the tracts, and he felt that tract should go to him. Grady agreed with Monroe’s suggested division. Nevertheless, the trial court did not vacate the judgment. Grady and Monroe appealed. This court dismissed the appeal because the 2003 judgment was not final without a disposition of appellants’ conversion claim. The parties then litigated the conversion action, and this appeal followed. HOLDING: Affirmed. The trial judge held a hearing during which he heard argument from counsel setting out reasons for the late filing of the objections and testimony from appellants about the proper division of the property. The court concludes the trial court considered appellants’ explanation and implicitly determined appellants did not establish good cause for the late filing. Trial counsel explained he had difficulty contacting his clients; though both Monroe and Grady testified at the reconsideration hearing, neither explained his difficulty. Counsel also offered a mistake of law excuse. He did not know of any deadline for filing objections to the report. Appellants did not file a written motion or present evidence of their excuses to the trial court; they offered no explanation until the reconsideration hearing a year later. Assuming the trial court could consider the attorney’s argument alone in deciding whether appellants established good cause, a lack of knowledge of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 771 is not a sufficient excuse. Appellants filed this partition proceeding and are charged with knowledge of the governing rules. Appellants offered no testimony as to why the circumstances justified the late filing, and made no showing that allowing the late objections would not cause undue delay or otherwise injure appellee. The court finds no abuse of discretion by the trial court. Addressing the appellant’s argument that Rule 771 is facially unconstitutional, although the appellants failed to preserve the issue, the court concludes that Rule 771 provides a means of challenging the implementation of the partition and affords due process to a party who objects to the report. The failure to find conversion and award damages against Mary is not so against the great and preponderance of the evidence as to be clearly wrong and unjust, the court concludes. Though the evidence is conflicting, the judge was free to resolve the conflicts. OPINION: Gaultney, J.; McKeithen, C.J., Gaultney and Kreger, J.J.

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