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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:This proceeding rose out of a bench trial that resulted in a final judgment rendered in favor of Bruce Hines on Dec. 2, 2004. The judgment ordered that Hines recover $9,719.70 for actual damages, $15,000 for attorneys’ fees incurred at trial, prejudgment interest, post-judgment interest and costs from Phillip and Veronica Villalbas. The judgment further provided: “[i]f this cause is unsuccessfully appealed, defendant’s attorney fees to defend against such appeal shall be $8,500.” The Villalbas perfected an appeal on March 11, 2005. Hines filed a notice of cross-appeal on March 22, 2005. Hines also served the Villalbas with post-judgment discovery, to which the Villalbas timely objected and responded. The Villalbas subsequently decided that they did not wish to pursue an appeal. On April 15, 2005, the Villalbas filed a motion to dismiss the appeal. Hines moved to dismiss the cross-appeal on April 21, 2005. As a result, the 11th Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal and cross-appeal on May 19, 2005 (the case had been transferred to the 11th Court for the purpose of equalizing dockets). The 11th Court’s order of dismissal provided that each party would bear its own costs. On May 16, 2005, the Villalbas tendered to Hines a cashier’s check in the amount of $27,434.82. The correspondence accompanying the check stated that the check represented full and final payment and satisfaction of all damages, attorneys’ fees, costs and interest, and it requested that Hines sign a release of judgment. Hines declined to accept the check or release the judgment, insisting that he was also entitled to the $8,500 in appellate attorneys’ fees referenced in the judgment. On June 23, 2005, the Villalbas filed a motion for protective order to prevent Hines from conducting post-judgment discovery to collect appellate attorneys’ fees. The trial court entered an order granting the motion on Oct. 5, 2005. The order: stated that Hines was not entitled to recover conditional appellate attorneys’ fees from the Villalbas; required the Villalbas to deposit the full amount of the judgment excluding appellate attorneys’ fees into the registry of the court; and stayed post-judgment discovery pending the court s receipt of the funds. Hines did not receive notice of the court’s order until Dec. 7, 2005, so he filed a motion to extend the deadline to appeal. The trial court signed the agreed order extending the deadline to appeal on Feb. 10, 2006. Hines’ appeal followed. HOLDING:Affirmed. Hines argued that the protective order entered by the trial court was void, because it was entered after the court’s plenary power expired. A trial court’s jurisdiction is limited after it has entered a final judgment, the court stated. In the absence of a motion extending a court’s plenary power, a trial court retains jurisdiction over a case for a minimum of 30 days after the entry of judgment. Orders issued outside a court’s plenary power are typically void, because once the court’s plenary power expires, it no longer has the authority to act, the court stated. But even when a court’s plenary power has expired, the court stated that “there are still certain actions it may take with respect to its judgment.” A court may supervise post-judgment discovery conducted to facilitate enforcement of the judgment. In addition, the trial court has both a statutory and an inherent power to enforce its judgment. There was no question, the court stated, that the trial court’s plenary power had expired when it granted the Villalbas’ motion for protective order. By ordering that the appellate attorneys’ fees were not recoverable in the context of this post-judgment discovery dispute, the court was merely providing further instruction on how to carry the judgment into effect. The court’s subsequent instructions were not inconsistent with the original judgment nor did they constitute a material change to the judgment. Therefore, the court concluded that the trial court’s entry of the order was a valid exercise of its power to enforce the judgment. OPINION: Richter, J.; Richter, Moseley and Bridges, JJ.

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