Rob Gilbreath Wins Contempt Case in Supreme Court of Texas

May 27, 2011 – Press Release

May 27, 2011 (Austin, TX) – Last year, a Dallas trial court held a local firm's client in contempt for lying during his deposition in a civil case and threw him jail. The firm turned to Hawkins Parnell & Young appellate specialist Rob Gilbreath for help, and Rob was quickly able to get the client released from jail with an emergency petition for writ of habeas corpus to Texas's Fifth Court of Appeals. The court of appeals later determined it did not have habeas corpus jurisdiction, and the client was returned to jail. Rob then sought habeas relief in Texas's Court of Criminal Appeals, which decided that even though it had jurisdiction, the matter should be decided by the Texas Supreme Court instead. The Texas Supreme Court does not have habeas jurisdiction under these circumstances, so Rob sought mandamus relief instead. The Supreme Court freed the client pending its decision, and subsequently granted the petition for writ of mandamus. Creating new law, the Supreme Court held that a party cannot be held in contempt for perjury during a deposition unless the perjury prevents the trial court from performing its duties. Another novel aspect of the Supreme Court's ruling was its conclusion that it could exercise its mandamus jurisdiction even though it does not have habeas jurisdiction in this sort of case. The case was front page news in the Texas Lawyer newspaper.