law-habeas-corpus | contempt | sanctions


The writ of habeas corpus, “the great writ,” is the remedy to be used by any person restrained in his or
her liberty. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 11.01 (West 2005); see M.B. v. State, 905 S.W.
2d 344, 346 (Tex. App.—El Paso 1995, no writ). “The great writ is an order from a judge commanding
a party, who is alleged to be restraining the applicant in some way, to appear before the court with the
person complaining of the restraint.” M.B., 905 S.W.2d at 346. “There, the custodian must explain the
reasons for the restraint, and if the reasons do not pass legal muster, the individual must be released.”
Id. “A juvenile, just as any other person, may challenge a restraint upon his or her liberty by filing an
application for writ of habeas corpus in the proper court.” Id. (citing In re Torres, 476 S.W.2d 883, 884
(Tex. App.—El Paso 1972, no writ)); see TEX. CONST. art. V, § 6 (stating that courts have jurisdiction,
original and appellate, as may be prescribed by law).


In a habeas corpus action challenging confinement for contempt, the relator bears the burden of showing that
the contempt order is void. See In re Dupree, 118 S.W.3d 911, 914 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2003, pet. denied). An
order is void if it is beyond the power of the court to enter it, or if it deprives the relator of liberty without due
process of law. Ex parte Barnett, 600 S.W.2d 252, 254 (Tex. 1980) (orig. proceeding). To be enforceable by
contempt, an order must set out the terms of compliance in clear and unambiguous terms. Ex parte Brister, 801
S.W.2d 833, 834 (Tex. 1990) (orig. proceeding). Moreover, a person cannot be sentenced to confinement
unless the order unequivocally commands that person to perform a duty or obligation. Ex parte Padron, 565 S.
W.2d 921, 921 (Tex. 1978) (orig. proceeding).  
In re Coppock, No. 08-0093 (Tex. 2009)(O'Neill) (contempt in divorce case overturned)

Because a writ of habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for addressing alleged irregularities occurring during
parole proceedings, and because Thompson is essentially challenging the duration of his incarceration, the
trial court did not have jurisdiction to grant Thompson the relief requested in his original petition. Therefore, the
trial court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Thompson's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Accordingly, we overrule Thompson's third issue.
08-00417-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 01-29-09, pet. denied June 2009)(Tex.App.- Corpus Christi, Jan. 29, 2009, pet.
denied June 2009) (prisoner suit, pro se litigant, no jurisdiction over claim, habeas corpus)

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