What Is a Whitney Certificate

In Whitney v. L&L Realty Corp., 500 S.W.2d 94, 96-97 (Tex. 1973), a landlord had used the long-arm statute to serve citation for delinquent rents on two former tenants. Whitney, 500 S.W.2d at 95. The former tenants had been residents of Texas when they leased the property from L&L Realty; however, after breaching the lease, they had both moved out of state. Id. L&L took a default judgment against the defendants after serving them via the SOS. Id. The Texas Supreme Court then framed the question as whether the long-arm statute requires not only service upon the SOS but also a showing in the record that the SOS forwarded the service to the defendant. Id. The record in Whitney demonstrated that there was citation issued and a return showing service on the SOS. Id. at 96. Thus, according to the court, the question was whether the foregoing was sufficient to confer jurisdiction or did the record also have to show compliance with the additional statutory requirement that the SOS forward a copy of the process to the defendant. Id. The Whitney court ultimately ruled that the record before the trial court must have a certificate from the SOS that it had forwarded a copy of the citation to the defendant and, without such a showing, the trial court did not have jurisdiction over the defendant. Id. Such a certificate has become known as a Whitney certificate.