Tuesday, March 4, 2008

DWOJ: Interlocutory appeal in forfeiture case dismissed

Finding no statutory authority for immediate appeal of order striking intervention, Court of appeals dismisses for want of jurisdiction.

Daniels v. State (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Feb. 21, 2008)(Bland) (forfeiture, intervention, finality of order, interlocutory order, DWOJ)
Opinion by Justice Jane Nenninger Bland
Before Chief Justice Radack, Justices Jennings and Bland
Leiroi M. Daniels, Owner of the 2000 Mercedes Automobile VIN #WDBNG75J4YA39643 v. The State of Texas
Appeal from 157th District Court of Harris County (Hon. Randall Wilson)
Disposition: Attempted appeal dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction


Appellant, Leiroi Daniels, appeals from an interlocutory order striking his petition in intervention. Specifically, Daniels contends that the trial court erred in striking his original answer as the registered owner of the vehicle in this case, and because the trial court struck his answer, he was denied his right to make an appearance in the forfeiture proceeding. Because the record before this court fails to establish that we have jurisdiction over the appeal, we dismiss the appeal.


On October 30, 2006, the State seized the vehicle in this case, a Mercedes S500, because it had allegedly been used in several aggravated robberies prior to that date. In addition, at the time of the seizure, police officers found one kilogram of cocaine in the car. The car was registered to Angel Rodriguez and Olga Joffre, and it was in their possession at the time the police seized it. After officers seized the car, Daniels notified the Houston Police Department and the District Attorney’s office that he was the owner of the car. Daniels claims title to the car, based upon a contract between Rodriguez and Daniels that transferred ownership of the car to Daniels in exchange for legal representation.

On November 29, 2006, the State filed a notice of seizure and intended forfeiture, claiming that the vehicle was subject to forfeiture because it constituted contraband. The State listed only Rodriguez and Joffre as respondents. Daniels filed an answer, alleging that he is the owner of the vehicle and that he has a justiciable interest in the lawsuit. The State filed a Motion to Strike Daniels’ answer, alleging that Daniels did not perfect his title in the automobile until after the date of the seizure. After a hearing on the motion, the trial court struck Daniels’ answer.


Daniels seeks to appeal the trial court’s order striking his original answer. Generally, appellate courts have jurisdiction to hear an appeal only if it is from a final judgment. Jack B. Anglin Co., Inc. v. Tipps, 842 S.W.2d 266, 272 (Tex. 1992). A final judgment is one which disposes of all legal issues between all parties. Id.; Hinde v. Hinde, 701 S.W.2d 637, 639 (Tex. 1985). The record reflects that the trial court has not yet entered a final judgment in the underlying matter, and no severance order appears in the record. Therefore, the order striking Daniels’ intervention is interlocutory.

An appellate court lacks jurisdiction to immediately review an interlocutory order unless a statute specifically authorizes an exception to the general rule, which is that appeals may only be taken from final judgments. Qwest Communications Corp. v. AT & T Corp., 24 S.W.3d 334, 336 (Tex. 2000); Stary v. DeBord, 967 S.W.2d 352, 352–53 (Tex. 1998); Metromedia Long Distance, Inc. v. Hughes, 810 S.W.2d 494, 499 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1991, writ denied) (order dismissing or striking petition in intervention may not be appealed by intervenor before rendition of final judgment, unless statute explicitly provides for appeal).

As no statute provides for interlocutory appeal of an order dismissing or striking a petition in intervention, Daniels may not appeal until the rendition of a final judgment between the original parties.


We dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Jane Bland

Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Jennings and Bland.

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