We were hired by an out of state attorney to domesticate a judgment obtained in another jurisdiction. The filing was contested by a motion for new trial. We were able to successfully defend the motion and obtain a favorable recovery for our client arguing, in part, the following:
The United States Constitution requires that full faith and credit be given in each state to
the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state. U.S. Cons. Art. IV, § 1. In Texas, the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act is the primary vehicle for enforcing a sister state’s judgment and applies to “any judgment, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court that is entitled to full faith and credit.” Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §35.001. A properly filed foreign judgment “has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses, and proceedings for reopening, vacating, staying, enforcing, or satisfying a judgment as a judgment of the court in which it is filed.” Id. §35.003(c).
A direct attack on the enforceability of a foreign judgment must be made within standard
appellate timetables by filing a motion for new trial within 30 days, a direct appeal within 30 days, or a restricted appeal within six months. Urso v. Lyon Fin. Servs., 93 S.W.3d 276, 279 & n.4. After these deadlines have expired, a bill of review is the exclusive method of challenging nonjurisdictional defects. Browning v. Placke, 698 S.W.2d 362, 363 (Tex. 1985).
After the trial court loses its plenary power after thirty days, it can no longer vacate a
final domesticated foreign judgment except by bill of review. Tex. R. Civ. P. 329b(f); BancorpSouth Bank v. Prevot, 256 S.W.3d 719, 729 (Tex.App. – Houston [14th Dist.] 2008). Where a trial court voids its order vacating a foreign judgment after finding that it had acted outside its plenary jurisdiction, the judgment debtors are not denied due process, as they may then pursue a bill of review. Malone v. Emmert Indus. Corp., 858 S.W.2d 547 at 548-549.
Murray L. Bristol
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