Alexander v. Russell

In Alexander v. Russell, 699 S.W.2d 209 (Tex. 1985), the parties were divorced in the 243rd District Court with Russell appointed managing conservator of the child. Two years later, Alexander filed a motion to modify conservatorship, which was denied by the court. The order recited that "the 243rd Judicial District Court disqualified itself from hearing said cause, transferring the same to the 327th Family District Court, with consent of all parties." It further represented that "jurisdiction of the 327th Family District Court is not in issue nor is it being challenged by any party to the lawsuit." Russell later filed suit to terminate Alexander's parental rights. While the petition was captioned in the 327th District Court, "someone, somehow, and at some unknown time" changed the caption to reflect the 243rd District Court. The order of termination also referenced the 243rd District Court, but was signed by the presiding judge of the 327th District Court. Alexander appealed, complaining that the 327th District Court lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, noting that: "Despite what the conservatorship order says about the 327th District Court having jurisdiction, there is no order transferring the cause to the 327th District Court. Thus, the 243rd District Court retained jurisdiction. Any attempted transfer of this cause to the 327th District Court was not for a reason authorized under former section 11.06 and therefore the judge had no authority to transfer the cause. If the judge of the 243rd District Court found it necessary to recuse himself, the proper procedure was to have another district judge preside in the 243rd District Court; not to transfer the cause." (Alexander, 699 S.W.2d at 210.)