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In re Bennett – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In In re Bennett, 960 S.W.2d 35 (Tex. 1997), the Texas Supreme Court considered whether a party's filing of nonsuit or the subsequent removal to federal court deprived a state trial court of jurisdiction to consider, sua sponte, whether sanctions should be imposed on attorneys for their pre-removal conduct. See Bennett, 960 S.W.2d at 36.

After plaintiffs filed a nonsuit and defendants removed the cause to federal court, Judge Max Bennett ordered sanctions against plaintiffs' attorneys, who knowingly and intentionally violated local rules providing for random assignment of cases to the eight district courts in Nueces County.

Judge Bennett sought and was granted mandamus relief by the Texas Supreme Court after the court of appeals directed him to sign the order of nonsuit and vacate the order for sanctions.

The Court stated that "it is only after plenary jurisdiction has expired that a trial court may not sanction counsel for pre-judgment conduct." Bennett, 960 S.W.2d at 38.