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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Dec. 13, 2005, a trial court granted Patricia and Charles T. Phillips’ uncontested divorce and approved their property division. The trial court initially planned to enter judgment on Jan. 9, 2006. Several changes, however, were made to the decree, which was not signed until Feb. 16, 2006. Patricia twice told her trial attorney Bruce Mauzy to file a motion for a new trial or a notice of appeal. He refused and told her that she would have to hire another attorney to file her requests and have the new attorney send him a motion to substitute counsel. Patricia retained Charles A. Hood, who timely filed her motion for new trial and set it for hearing on April 12, 2006. Mauzy was served with a subpoena duces tecum the day before the hearing requesting that he turnover Patricia’s file. On the day of hearing on Patricia’s motion for new trial, Mauzy filed a motion to show authority under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 12 and a motion to quash the subpoena duces tecum. In the Rule 12 motion, Mauzy argued that Hood lacked authority to file the motion for new trial because Mauzy was still Patricia’s attorney when the motion for new trial was filed. Thus, Mauzy alleged that Hood was interfering with their attorney/client relationship. The trial court found that Hood lacked authority and struck Patricia’s motion for new trial. Hood responded the same day with a motion to substitute counsel and an amended motion for new trial, neither of which was ruled on by the trial court. Later, he filed a motion to reconsider, which the trial court denied after a hearing. Patricia appealed. In her sole issue on appeal, Patricia argued that the trial court erred in striking her motion for new trial. She asserted that, because Mauzy no longer represented her at the time Hood filed the motion for new trial, the motion should have been heard, not stricken. In support, Patricia contended that: 1. because only a party may challenge an attorney’s authority through a Rule 12 motion, Mauzy lacked standing to challenge Hood’s authority; 2. it was error for the trial court to hear Mauzy’s motion to show authority on the same day it was filed; 3. a client can discharge her attorney and hire new counsel at anytime, for any reason, and, once discharged, the former attorney must withdraw; 4. a motion to substitute counsel was unnecessary; and 5. she was harmed by being denied the counsel of her choice. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Rule 12, the court stated, has long been the exclusive method for questioning the authority of an attorney to bring a suit. Until 1981, the court stated that a Rule 12 motion was limited to a defendant challenging a plaintiff’s attorney’s authority to prosecute a suit. Afterward, Rule 12 was changed to also allow a plaintiff to challenge another party’s attorney’s authority. In the present case, the court noted that Mauzy, Patricia’s original trial counsel, filed a Rule 12 motion contesting Hood’s authority to represent Patricia in a motion for new trial. Rule 12, however, does not address whether a motion can be filed by a nonparty attorney, so the court analyzed the rule and found that it “plainly grant[ed] a party standing to challenge an attorney’s authority.” The court found that Mauzy did not bring his motion challenging Hood’s authority by or on behalf of any party. Thus, the court found that Mauzy lacked standing to file the Rule 12 motion. Accordingly, because Mauzy lacked standing to file the Rule 12 motion, the trial court’s order ruling on the merits and finding that Hood lacked authority is void. The trial court, the court also noted, struck Patricia’s motion for new trial after erroneously hearing the Rule 12 motion and determining that Hood lacked authority to represent Patricia. As a result, the court stated, the trial court abused its discretion in striking the motion for new trial. OPINION:Hanks, J.; Taft, Hanks and Higley, JJ.

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