Goodwin v. Kent – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Goodwin v. Kent, 745 S.W.2d 466, 469 (Tex. App.-Tyler 1988, no writ), the appeals court considered which court (the County Court at Law of Smith County or the district court in Rusk County) had dominant jurisdiction to resolve a land title dispute.

The statutory county court admitted the decedent's will to probate in 1974 as an independent administration. See Goodwin, 745 S.W.2d at 467-68.

No showing had been made that the estate administration was closed. See id. at 468.

In 1987, Goodwin petitioned the 4th District Court of Rusk County (where the land was located) to determine his ownership in one of the decedent's tracts of land. See id.

Later that year, Glass petitioned the Smith County court to determine the title of the land. See id.

Glass then filed a plea in abatement and motion to transfer venue from Rusk County to Smith County. See id. The following month, Goodwin filed a Plea in Abatement in the Smith County court and alleged that the district court in Rusk County had dominant jurisdiction. See id.

Judge Kent (of Smith County) overruled Goodwin's plea in abatement; Goodwin then petitioned the Tyler Court of Appeals to issue a writ of mandamus to compel the abatement. See id.

The appeals court found that both courts have "at least the power to hear and decide a title issue." Id. at 469.

The appeals court stated that the county court had a duty to dismiss the petitions that Goodwin filed in Smith County. See id.

Yet, the court apparently reached this result because the title dispute had not been filed previously in the Smith court. See id.