Texas Stamp


PD-0018-23 02/22/2023

“Should this Court find the Fifth Court of Appeals’ opinion in Ranger from 2010 is wrongly decided and conflicts with precedent from this Court in Dees and Safety National?”

Continental executed a surety bond for a criminal defendant who then failed to appear for court. The State instituted bond forfeiture proceedings against Continental.

Bond forfeiture proceedings have historically been considered criminal matters. By statute, they are “governed by the same rules governing other civil suits.” Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 22.10. Similarly, appeals from bond-forfeiture proceedings are “regulated by the same rules that govern civil actions.” Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 44.44. Dees v. State, 865 S.W.2d 461 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993), applied the plain language of Art. 22.10 and held that trial courts can assess civil court costs at the trial court level in bond forfeiture cases. By contrast, Safety National Cas. Corp. v. State, 305 S.W.3d 586 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010), held that the Legislature that enacted Art. 44.44 would not have understood “the same rules that govern civil actions” to encompass appellate courts assessing civil appellate filing fees in bond forfeiture cases. At that time, the historical analogue to the civil appellate filing fee statutes were expressly limited to civil cases and thus could not have been applied to (criminal) bond forfeiture cases. Safety National saw no inconsistency with Dees, since when Art. 22.10 was first enacted, the trial court fee statutes had no such express limitation to civil cases. The Fifth Court of Appeals in Ranger Insurance Co. v. State, 312 S.W.3d 266 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2010, pet. dism’d untimely), held that a trial court could assess civil filing fees. It recognized that the present-day filing-fee statute was expressly limited to “the filing of a civil case” but held it was bound by Dees.

The trial court assessed civil filing fees against Continental. Continental paid the fees but sought to recover them under Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 103.008, which permits correction of costs by motion. The trial court denied the motion to correct costs, and the court of appeals, following its precedent in Ranger, affirmed.  

Continental argues that Ranger should be overruled because it failed to distinguish court costs (which it argues are allowed to be assessed under Dees) from civil-filing fees (which it argues are not), consistent with Judge Meyers’ concurrence in Safety National.

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