Cook v. Spears

In Cook v. Spears, 524 S.W.2d 290, 292 (Tex. 1975), the hearing on the appeal to the district court was first set forty-two days after the appeal was filed. 524 S.W.2d at 291. There the commissioner sought to set aside certain trial court orders issued after the ten-day period expired, on the ground that the district court lost jurisdiction when it failed to render judgment within ten days after the appeal was filed. Id. at 290-91. The Court declined to issue the writ of mandamus, stating that once the ten-day period expired, the commission's order became "final and enforceable," and the proceedings conducted beyond ten days "were void because the right to a trial on appeal was lost." Id. at 292. Under that reasoning, any district court action taken after expiration of the ten days, including the court's fulfillment of a ministerial duty to sign a judgment affirming the commission's order, would be void. In Spears, the Alcoholic Beverage Commission ordered a five-day suspension of an alcohol license. Spears, 524 S.W.2d at 290. The licensee appealed to the district court under section 11.67(b)'s predecessor, article 666-15e, section 7a. Though the statute required a trial within ten days, the district court did not set the case for trial until one month later. At that time, the licensee moved for a continuance, and the parties agreed to try the case another month later. On the trial date, the licensee urged two motions, one for a continuance and the other to compel the Commission to disclose certain information. The district court granted both motions but stayed the disclosure order pending the Commission's seeking mandamus relief from these rulings. Spears, 524 S.W.2d at 291. On mandamus review, the Commission argued that the district court "lost jurisdiction" to enter any orders, because the ten-day period for a trial on appeal had passed. Spears, 524 S.W.2d at 291. In discussing the legislative history of article 666-15e, this Court noted that the statute's earliest version required only that an appeal be tried within ten days or at the earliest possible time thereafter "in the event the Judge is not able to try such cause within such ten (10) day period." Spears, 524 S.W.2d at 291 n.2 (citations and emphasis omitted). But, in 1937, the Legislature amended the provision and struck the language permitting a judge to extend the trial beyond that ten-day period. Spears, 524 S.W.2d at 291; see Act of May 22, 1937, 45th Leg., R.S., ch. 448, art. I, 15, 1937 Tex. Gen. Laws 1053, 1066. And, when the Legislature added article 666-15e to the Liquor Control Act in 1967, it declared that the statutory terms, including the ten-day trial rule, "shall be considered literally." Spears, 524 S.W.2d at 291; see Act of May 25, 1961, 57th Leg., R.S., ch. 262, 1, 1961 Tex. Gen. Laws 559, 561.