Blog & Legal Updates

Procedure for Suspending Declaratory Judgments Pending An Appeal

Texas has long recognized the ability of parties to seek declaratory judgments in certain types of cases. A declaratory judgment is one in which the judgment declares the rights, status, and other legal relations between the parties.

But assuming that a declaratory judgment is granted, what relief is available to a party who seeks to appeal the declaratory judgment and who wants to suspend that judgment from taking effect while an appeal is pursued?

In Texas, a final judgment may be superseded, pending an appeal, even though the judgment does not require a writ of execution or other process to enforce it. In the context of an appeal, the purpose of supersedeas is to preserve the status quo as it existed between the parties before the issuance of the judgment from which an appeal is taken.

The general rule is that judgments that grant declaratory relief are subject to Rule 24.2(a)(3) for purposes of suspending the judgment pending an appeal:

(3) Other Judgment.–When the judgment is for something other than money or an interest in property, the trial court must set the amount and type of security that the judgment debtor must post. The security must adequately protect the judgment creditor against loss or damage that the appeal might cause. But the trial court may decline to permit the judgment to be superseded if the judgment creditor posts security ordered by the trial court in an amount and type that will secure the judgment debtor against any loss or damage caused by the relief granted the judgment creditor if an appellate court determines, on final disposition, that that relief was improper.

TEX. R. APP. P. 24.2(a)(3). Under this rule, the trial court must determine the amount and type of security that a judgment debtor must post in order to suspend the judgment pending the appeal.

Even if the declaratory judgment also contains an award of monetary damages, Rule 24.2(a)(3) still applies. Therefore, a judgment debtor who only posts security in a specific monetary amount because of a monetary award of damages does not automatically suspend the enforcement of the declaratory relief portions of a judgment. Rule 24.2(a)(3) still requires that the trial court determine the amount and type of security that should be posted to suspend the declaratory relief portion of a judgment.

If a judgment debtor is dissatisfied with a trial court’s ruling under Rule 24.2(a)(3), the initial remedy is to file a motion with the court of appeals to seek review of the trial court’s ruling concerning the amount or type of security that is necessary to supersede the declaratory judgment. TEX. R. APP. P. 24.4. Further appellate review from a ruling of the court of appeals on a motion under Rule 24.4 can be sought by filing a petition for writ of mandamus with the Texas Supreme Court.