Rule 165a(3) Motion to Reinstate: "Verified" Really Does Mean What It Says

In re Briseno
Dallas Court of Appeals, Nos. 05-22-01174-CV (December 14, 2022)
Before Justices Myers, Nowell (Opinion), and Goldstein 
Rule 165a(3) states that a motion to reinstate after dismissal for want of prosecution must be “verified by the movant or his attorney.” The Dallas Court of Appeals applied that requirement literally (and some might say harshly) in In re Briseno. There, following a dismissal for want of prosecution, plaintiff’s counsel timely filed a motion to reinstate within 30 days explaining that he failed to appear for the dismissal hearing due to a “calendaring error.” And he attached a “Verification” swearing that the facts in the motion were “true and correct.” But, the “purported verification d[id] not reflect it was made in the presence of an authorized officer such as a notary public.” Nevertheless, the trial court granted the motion and reinstated the case.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court’s order granting the motion to reinstate was void for lack of jurisdiction because it was not properly verified and did not extend the court’s plenary power beyond 30 days of the judgment. A verification must be sworn to before an authorized officer. In addition, the “verification” here did not meet the requirements of an unsworn declaration under CPRC § 132.001, such as containing the declarant’s birthdate and address. Accordingly, the Court granted mandamus relief and ordered the trial court to set aside the case’s reinstatement.

Morale of the story: Follow the rules, especially when dismissal is on the line.
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