By Skyler Schoolfield
Assistant District Attorney in Brown County
Like every other office, ours became extremely backlogged during the COVID shutdown. I was tasked with reducing that backlog, and one area in particular was judgments nisi. I had heard of judgments nisi before, but I had no idea where to start or how to pronounce “nisi.” When I looked for resources, I couldn’t find any, so I had to piece together information from various codes, rules, articles, forums, prosecutors, and judges to figure out how to take a judgment nisi from start to finish.
To prevent other prosecutors from going through that same time-intensive process, I have compiled that information into an article to serve as a practical guide for prosecuting bond forfeitures so that any prosecutor can successfully take the judgment nisi from entry to finality. This article will address what happens in the criminal case when a defendant fails to appear, the process for initiating the action, resolving the action, and finally, post-judgment issues.
Failure to appear
As we all know, despite bonds, defendants still fail to appear, so what do prosecutors do when that happens? First, request that the bailiff call the defendant’s name distinctly at the courthouse door. If the defendant does not respond, request that the bond be forfeited, a capias be issued for the defendant’s rearrest, and a judgment nisi be entered. The court may also require the defendant pay a cash bond after he has been arrested on the bond forfeiture warrant. If the judge grants the request for a judgment nisi to be entered, request a certified copy of the bond and bailiff’s certificate. They contain the information necessary to draft the judgment nisi.
Introduction to judgments nisi
A judgment nisi alone does not entitle the State to recover the bond. A judgment nisi is a provisional judgment that may become final, which means that requesting that a judgment nisi be entered is only the first step to forfeiting a bond. (“Nisi” is Latin for “unless,” and a judgment nisi is an intermediate judgment that will become final unless a party appeals or formally requests the court to set it aside.) After the judge grants the request to enter a judgment nisi, the State must draft and file a judgment nisi with the clerk’s office, which the judge will then sign.
The statute of limitations for filing a judgment nisi is four years after the defendant’s failure to appear. The preferred approach is to file the judgment nisi as close to the failure to appear as possible because 1) working bond forfeitures as they arise prevents backlog, and 2) the number of days between the filing date and the defendant’s rearrest impacts what the State can ask for at the final hearing.
When the bond forfeited is a surety bond, the parties to a judgment nisi are the State, the surety (the bondsman—a surety is someone who is liable for the debt or performance of another), and the principal (the defendant in the criminal case). When the bond forfeited is a cash or personal bond, the parties to the judgment nisi are the State and the principal (defendant).
Bond forfeitures use both civil and criminal law. The process is governed by Chapter 22 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure; however, filing a judgment nisi creates a civil lawsuit and civil rules govern the proceedings, including use of the civil standard of proof, the preponderance of the evidence.
Service of process
After the judge signs the judgment nisi, the clerk will serve the citation on the surety and, in most circumstances, the principal. The citation provides the defendants with notice of the suit. The citation includes a copy of the:
• judgment nisi,
• forfeited bond, and
• a power of attorney attached to the bond, if any.
Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 99 governs the form of the citation. The citation will also inform the parties that they must appear and show cause why the judgment nisi should not be made final. Although the clerk is the one who issues the citation, the State must make sure that the citation was issued correctly.
Serving the surety. Service of citation on the surety is done following the same rules as required in civil cases. Typically, service is completed by mailing the citation to the surety by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the surety is an individual, the citation is mailed to the individual. More commonly, the bondsman will be a business.
There are two types of bail bondsmen: a property bondsman and an insurance bondsman. A property bondsman is an individual doing business as a company name. The bonds are backed by a cash deposit or collateral accompanied by an oath of surety. If the surety is a property bondsman, the citation is mailed to the individual dba the bonding company name (i.e., Tina Bondsmen dba Bail Bonds).
An insurance bondsman is an insurance company that also operates as a bondsman. The agents of the insurance company will run the bonding business and take bonds, but the party is the insurance company, not the individual bondsman or agent that took the bond. (The agent is not liable for the bond.) The insurance company must have its registered agent (the attorney designated to receive service of process) on file with the Office of the Secretary of State and with the Bail Bond Board, if applicable. The party’s name will include the insurance company, agent, and bond company name (i.e., Criminal Insurance by and through Tina Bondsmen dba Bail Bonds). If the bondsman is an insurance company, citation is mailed to the attorney designated for service of process.
The surety may waive the service of the citation, or the surety may designate a person to receive the service of citation.
Counties with a population of 110,000 or more are required to have a Bail Bond Board that regulates bondsmen licensing and other aspects of bail bonds. The board maintains and posts the list of every licensed bondsman and their licensed agent in every court with criminal jurisdiction, where prisoners are examined, processed, or confined, and they must provide that list to local authorities that detain prisoners.
Counties with a population under 110,000 are permitted but not required to have a Bail Bond Board. The sheriff’s office handles the maintenance and posting of the list of the bail bondsmen if the county is not required or has not elected to have a Bail Bond Board.
Serving the principal. The principal is not entitled to formal service of citation. However, if the principal’s address is on the bond, then the clerk must mail notice to the address that is shown on the bond or to the principal’s last known address. The principal need not receive the notice—even if the mail was returned as undeliverable, proof that the notice was mailed to the address on the bond or the principal’s last known address is sufficient to comply with Art. 22.05.
Serving principal of cash bond. When the principal posts a cash bond, the principal shall be served by mail to the address on the bond or to his last known address. The statute does not require that the citation be sent by certified mail, however, so the exact day that the principal received notice of the suit is unknown. This adds three days to the principal’s deadline to file an answer.
The surety and principal must file a written answer “on or before 10:00 a.m. on the Monday next after the expiration of 20 days after the date of service.” Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 22.13 lists five grounds for exoneration that operate as affirmative defenses; the surety and principal are limited to those five grounds. If the surety or principal intends to claim any of these grounds, they must specifically plead that ground for exoneration in its answer. If they have not pled a ground for exoneration, they may not rely on that ground at the final hearing.
The first ground for exoneration is that the bond is invalid. If the principal used an alias when signing the bond, the bond is not invalid.
The second ground for exoneration is the death of the principal prior to the forfeiture. The forfeiture is not the day the judgment nisi is made final. If the trial court issues a judgment nisi and the principal subsequently dies, the death of the principal is not a valid ground for exoneration. The forfeiture is still valid even if the surety is dead at the time of the forfeiture, and the surety will still be liable as long as the executor, administrator, or heirs (whichever applies) is served with citation.
The third ground is sickness or some other uncontrollable circumstances that prevented the principal from appearing and the circumstances were not the principal’s fault. For this ground to be sufficient to exonerate the principal and surety, the principal must “appear before final judgment on the bond to answer the accusation against him, or show sufficient cause for not so appearing.” Incarceration anywhere in the United States or in another country is an uncontrollable circumstance that exonerates the principal and surety from liability. However, being deported is not an uncontrollable circumstance.
The fourth ground applies if the failure to appear occurred before the presentment of an indictment or information. If the State does not obtain an indictment from the grand jury or file an information at the next term after the principal’s failure to appear, the principal and surety are exonerated from liability for the bond forfeiture.
The fifth ground is the most frequently applied. In misdemeanor cases, if the principal is arrested within 180 days of the defendant’s failure to appear, the surety and principal are exonerated from liability for the cost of the bond. In a felony case, the deadline is 270 days. Even if the surety and principal are exonerated from liability on this ground, they are still liable for court costs, transportation costs, and interest that accrued from the date of the judgment nisi to the date of the principal’s rearrest. This is a valid ground for exoneration even if the surety had nothing to do with the principal’s rearrest.
If the underlying criminal case is dismissed, the surety is still liable; however, this is a ground for remittitur.
After the bond forfeiture but before the judgment nisi is final, the surety may file a motion asking for remittitur of the bond. If the principal is released on a new bail or the underlying criminal case is dismissed, the court must remit the cost of the bond to the surety after subtracting court costs, transportation costs, and interest. The court has the discretion to remit the bond after subtracting court costs, transportation costs, and interest if the surety shows other good cause. Remittitur is discretionary even if the surety shows that he incurred great expense in returning the defendant to custody.
Like any civil or criminal case, bond forfeitures can be resolved by an agreed judgment. This is how the majority of judgments nisi are resolved. There is no uniform way to conduct settlement negotiations, so how the State does it is up to the prosecutor and office policy. The most important aspect of negotiations is that the State is open with the bondsmen regarding the office’s policy.
Below are two examples of settlement negotiation policies. The first is a simple settlement policy, and the second is a more structured one.
Example One: The office requests court costs, transportation costs, and interest if the principal is arrested within the exoneration time frame. The office requests court costs, transportation costs, interest, and 50 percent of the bond if the principal is not arrested within the exoneration time frame.
Example Two: The principal fails to appear, and the office sends a courtesy letter to the surety explaining that the principal failed to appear and that the office will file a judgment nisi if the principal is not arrested in 30 days.
If the principal is not arrested in 30 days, a judgment nisi is filed, and the surety answers. After the surety answers, the office will send out a settlement letter asking for court costs and transportation costs. If the surety does not respond within 30 days, the office sends out a second letter asking for court costs, transportation costs, and interest.
If the surety does not respond within 60 days, the office sends out a third settlement letter asking for court costs, transportation costs, interest, and a third of the bond. If the surety does not respond within 90 days, the office sets the case for a final hearing
After the State and the surety reach an agreement, the parties document the agreement in an agreed judgment and file it with the clerk for the court’s signature. This can be done before or after the surety or principal (practically, the surety) pays, but preferred practice would be to file the agreed judgment after receiving payment. It is important that the agreed judgment includes a waiver of remittitur.
These cases are rarely resolved by a final hearing. If the case does make it to one, typically the State is the only party to appear. But it is still important to know how to conduct a final hearing.
Setting the case. Defendants are entitled to at least 45 days’ notice of the setting date. Typically, the final hearing is a bench trial, but a party can request a jury trial as long as the party makes a written request and pays the jury fee within a reasonable time before the trial setting on the non-jury docket. A request and payment less than 30 days in advance of the non-jury docket setting is unreasonable.
Burden of proof. As the plaintiff, the State has the burden of proof.
Elements. The elements the State is required to prove are:
• the surety and principal executed a valid bond;
• the principal failed to personally appear in court when required;
• the principal’s name was called distinctly at the courthouse door; and
• the principal did not have a valid reason for not appearing.
The judgment nisi is prima facie proof that the principal’s name was called distinctly at the courthouse door, that the principal failed to appear, and that there was not a valid reason for the principal’s failure to appear. Once the prima facie proof has been entered, the principal or surety has the burden to show that one of the statutory requirements has not been met. Because of this, the bond and judgment nisi are viewed as the two essential elements of the State’s case.
Proof. Best approach is to admit a certified copy of the bond and judgment nisi into evidence. However, it is sufficient for the trial court to take judicial notice of the bond and the judgment nisi. Even though the judgment nisi is prima facie proof of the principal’s name being called and the principal’s failure to appear, it is best practice to also admit a certified copy of the bailiff’s certificate. If the bailiff did not do a certificate, the bailiff can testify at the final hearing that he or she called the principal’s name at the courthouse door and the principal failed to appear. While it may not be essential to admit the bailiff’s certificate or have the bailiff testify, it is better to win with more evidence than necessary than it is to lose knowing there was additional evidence that could have been used but was not.
After the State presents its case, the surety and principal may present their case to show cause why the judgment nisi should not be made final. It is important to review the answer before the surety and principal present evidence to ensure that they are presenting evidence of only pleaded defenses. The defense may present evidence of a ground for exoneration only if he included that ground in his answer. However, if he presents the evidence and the State does not object, the trial court will find that the ground for exoneration was tried by consent. This means the trial court can still consider that evidence in determining whether the defense has satisfied that ground for exoneration.
For example, the surety filed a general denial and did not specifically plead any of the five grounds of exoneration. At the final hearing, the surety attempts to introduce evidence that the bond was invalid. If the State does not object to evidence suggesting the bond was invalid, the State has consented to trying that ground of exoneration. This means that the court can consider the evidence that the bond was invalid as a means for exonerating the surety from liability even though the surety did not plead that ground of exoneration in its answer.
Monetary award. In addition to proving the elements of bond forfeiture, the State must also ask for the monetary amount that should be awarded to the state. If the principal has been arrested anywhere in the United States by the 270th day after he failed to appear for a felony court setting or the 180th day after the principal failed to appear for a misdemeanor court setting, the State may recover court costs, transportation fees, and interest from the date of the nisi to the date of the arrest.
If the principal has not been rearrested or was arrested after those statutory deadlines, the State may recover court costs, transportation costs, interest from the date of the nisi to the date of the judgment, and the full bond amount.
Bond amount. If the defendant has not been rearrested within the exoneration time frame, the State is entitled to recover the full amount of the bond.
Court costs. Court costs are calculated by the clerk’s office. Depending on the settlement negotiation policies, the State may already have the calculated amount. If so, then the State can ask the judge to award court costs for that amount. If the State does not know the court costs, it can simply ask the judge to award court costs.
Transportation costs. If the principal was rearrested in the same county, there likely will not be transportation costs. Generally, transportation costs need to be recovered only when the principal was arrested out of county or state and the sheriff’s office had to travel to bring the principal back to the county.
If there are transportation costs associated with the principal, reach out to the person at the Sheriff’s Office who is in charge of maintaining transport records. That person should have a restitution worksheet that provides the total transportation costs owed for that principal. He or she will also testify at the final hearing as to the transportation costs.
It is important to note that sureties are required to pay the transportation costs regardless of whether there is a final judgment nisi, so it is possible that the transportation costs will already be paid before the final hearing.
Interest. Interest on a judgment nisi accrues at the same rate as the prejudgment interest for civil cases, which is determined by Texas Finance Code Ch. 304. Prejudgment interest is calculated in the same manner as post-judgment interest but is simple, non-compounding interest. The interest rate is the Federal Reserve’s prime rate as published on the date of computation. However, if the prime rate is less than 5 percent, the prejudgment interest rate is 5 percent, and if the prime rate is more than 15 percent, the prejudgment interest rate is 15 percent. To find the applicable prime rate, go to www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h15.
To calculate interest, multiply the amount of the bond by the interest rate in decimals (8 percent is 0.08) and divide by 365 (the number of days in a year). The result is the interest accrued each day. If the principal has been arrested within the exoneration timeline, multiply the daily interest by the number of days between the day the nisi was filed and arrest. If the principal has not been arrested within the exoneration timeline, multiply the daily interest by the number of days between the day the nisi was filed and final judgment. The result is the amount of interest in dollars.
Impact of an outstanding judgment. If a final judgment against a surety is outstanding for more than 31 days, the clerk’s office or Bail Bond Board must tell the Sheriff’s Office. That surety’s bonds will not be accepted by the Sheriff’s Office until the judgment is paid.
Forfeiting a personal bond. The process for forfeiting a personal bond is generally the same as for forfeiting a surety bond. The primary difference is that it is highly unlikely that the State will ever recover any money because personal bonds are typically given to defendants who are indigent.
Forfeiting a cash bond. If the defendant has not pled guilty or nolo contendere, the process for forfeiting a cash bond is the same as the process for forfeiting a surety bond under Chapter 22 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
If the criminal case is in JP or municipal court and the defendant has pled guilty or nolo contendere, the process is governed by Art. 45.044 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Under this statute the court may forfeit the defendant’s cash bond and use the amount of the cash bond to cover the costs of the defendant’s fines and fees in the criminal case if two conditions are met:
1) the defendant must have “entered a written and signed plea of guilty or nolo contendere and a waiver of jury trial,” and
2) the defendant failed to appear in court as required by the condition of his release.
After the judge enters the judgment of conviction and forfeiture, the court must give written notice by mail to the defendant’s last known address that the judgment of conviction and forfeiture were entered against him, the forfeiture satisfies the fines and costs, and the defendant has 10 days to apply for a new trial.
If the defendant files in that timeline, the court must grant the motion and allow the defendant to withdraw the previously entered plea of guilty or nolo contendere. If the defendant mails the motion, the defendant must mail the motion on or before the due date. The clerk’s office must receive the motion within 10 days after the due date, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. If the defendant does not file a motion for new trial, the judgment nisi and conviction are final.
If the surety or principal does not answer by the deadline and the return of service has been in the clerk’s file for 10 days, not including the day of filing the return or the default judgment, the court enters a default judgment. The State must certify to the clerk, in writing, the last known mailing address of the party in default. This is typically done in the same document as the default judgment the State files with the clerk. After filing the default judgment, the case will be set for a hearing on the default judgment where the State will present evidence of damages.
Getting the money
Writ of execution. The State may file a writ of execution to enforce the judgment and receive the monies owed. The writ commands an officer to take property from the principal or surety to satisfy the judgment debt. Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 629 dictates the requirements for a writ of execution, including the date of return.
The writ must also include the amount of money that is to be paid. Chapter 42 of the Texas Property Code lists the property that is exempted from a writ of execution. The first place to look when enforcing the judgment is the collateral the bondsman put up with the Sheriff’s Office.
Judgment lien. Another way to enforce the judgment is to place a judgment lien on the homestead exempt real property owned by the principal or surety (practically, it will be the surety’s property). To do this, file an abstract of judgment in the county clerk’s office where the real property is located.
Motion for new trial. Any party to the suit has 30 days after the judgment nisi is made final to file a written motion for new trial. The trial court has the discretion to grant the motion for new trial based on good cause shown, for example, the damages awarded were too high or too low.
Appeal. The rules for appeal are governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure in addition to the Texas Rules for Appellate Procedure. Generally, a party does not have to file a motion for new trial to be able to appeal, but the Rules of Civil Procedure list five grounds the party is required to raise in a motion for new trial before the party is eligible to appeal:
1) “a complaint on which evidence must be heard such as one of jury misconduct or newly discovered evidence or failure to set aside a judgment by default;
2) a complaint of factual insufficiency of the evidence to support a jury finding;
3) a complaint that a jury finding is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence;
4) a complaint of inadequacy or excessiveness of the damages found by the jury; or
5) incurable jury argument if not otherwise ruled on by the trial court.”
Generally, the party must file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the judgment nisi became final. If the party files a motion for new trial, however, the deadline to file the notice of appeal is 90 days.
Special bill of review. A special bill of review is a way the surety can seek to remit part or all of the bond (after subtracting court costs, transportation costs, and interest) based on equitable grounds after final judgment. The surety has two years after the judgment nisi is made final to file a special bill of review. The trial court has the discretion to grant or deny it. The following is a nonexclusive list of equitable grounds that the court may consider:
1) whether the accused’s failure to appear in court was willful;
2) whether the delay caused by the accused’s failure to appear in court prejudiced the State or harmed the public interest;
3) whether the surety participated in the re-arrest of the accused;
4) whether the State incurred costs or suffered inconvenience in the re-arrest of the accused;
5) whether the surety received compensation for the risk of executing the bail bond; and
6) whether the surety will suffer extreme hardship in the absence of a remittitur.
While judgments nisi are not as fun as some of the criminal cases that prosecutors handle (let’s be real, they can be downright boring), they are an important part of the criminal justice process. Pursuing bond forfeitures recovers county funds, and when prosecuted regularly, it serves as motivation for bondsmen to get their principals to court so prosecutors can resolve cases. I believe that this article gives you everything you need to take judgments nisi from start to finish. As for how to pronounce “nisi,” three different district attorneys I asked said it three different ways, so you are on your own there.
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.02. The courthouse door is the exterior door of the courthouse, not the courtroom door. Caldwell v. State, 126 S.W.2d 654, 655-56 (Tex. Crim. App. 1939). However, the Court of Criminal Appeals requires only substantial compliance with the requirements in Art. 22.02 and has held that calling the defendant’s name in the hallway substantially complies with Art. 22.02. Bennett v. State, 394 S.W.2d 804, 807 (Tex. Crim. App.1965); see Tocher v. State, 517 S.W.2d 299, 300 (Tex. Crim. App. 1975).
 If your county has a pre-trial services program (the county’s bondsman) and they bonded the defendant as opposed to a commercial bondsman, do not request that a judgment nisi be entered because the county posted the bond and is serving as a surety.
 Tex. Code of Crim. Pro. Art. 23.05(a).
 While a bailiff’s certificate is not strictly necessary because you can prove the failure to appear by the bailiff’s testimony, it is much simpler to prove the failure to appear by admitting a certified copy of the bailiff’s certificate at the final hearing.
 State v. Sellers, 790 S.W.2d 316, 321 (Tex. Crim. App. 1990).
 Safety Nat. Cas. Corp. v. State, 273 S.W.3d 157, 163 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008).
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.10.
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.05.
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.04.
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.05.
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 106. The other methods of service still apply and can be used, but this is the most common method.
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.02(b).
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.03(b)-(c).
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.03(d).
 Tex. Occ. Code §1704.051.
 Tex. Occ. Code §1704.105.
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 17.141.
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art 22.05; Smith v. State, 566 S.W.2d 638, 540 (Tex. Crim. App. 1978) (the trial court did not err in granting final judgment against the surety even though the principal was not served with citation).
 Tex. Code of Crim. Pro. Art. 22.05.
 See Rodriguez v. State, 990 S.W.2d 438, 440–42 (Tex. App.—El Paso 1999, no pet.).
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.035.
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 21a(c).
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 99(c); Tex. Code of Crim. Pro. Art. 22.11.
 Lyles v. State, 587 S.W.2d 717, 718 (Tex. Crim. App. 1979), cert. denied, 445 U.S. 951 (1980).
 Hernden v. State, 505 S.W.2d 546, 548 (Tex. Crim. App.1974).
 Id; see McCarter v. State, 442 S.W.3d 655 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2014, no pet.).
 Smith v. State, 561 S.W.2d 501, 502 (Tex. Crim. App. 1978); Hill v. State, 955 S.W.2d 96, 100 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997).
 Allegheny Cas. Co. v. State, 163 S.W.3d 220, 228 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2005, no pet.); see also Castaneda v. State, 138 S.W.3d 304, 310 (Tex. Crim. App. 2003) (did not reach the question of whether deportation was an uncontrollable circumstance because the surety did not prove the principal was actually deported).
 Fly v. State, 550 S.W.2d 684, 686 (Tex. Crim. App. 1977).
 Gibson v. State, 401 S.W.2d 822, 825 (Tex. Crim. App. 1966).
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.125.
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 503.3(a).
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 216.
 Kubosh v. State, 241 S.W.3d 60, 63 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007).
 Alvarez v. State, 861 S.W.2d 878, 881 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992).
 Id; Tocher, 517 S.W.2d at 301.
 Alvarez, 861 S.W.2d at 881.
 Kubosh, 241 S.W.3d at 63.
 Hokr v. State, 545 S.W.2d 463, 466 (Tex. Crim. App. 1977) (the trial court may take judicial notice of the judgment nisi); Kubosh, 241 S.W.3d at 63 (the trial court may take judicial notice of the bond).
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.13(b).
 State ex rel. Vance v. Routt, 571 S.W.2d 903, 908 (Tex. Crim. App. 1978); Tex. Code of Crim Pro. Arts. 22.02, 22.13(b).
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.16(c).
 Tex. Occ. Code §§1704.204(a), 1704.2535(a).
 Tex. Occ. Code §1704.2535(b)-(c).
 Tex. Code Crim. Pro. Art. 22.15; Tex. R. Civ. P. 107(h).
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 239a.
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 503.1(a)(1).
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 621.
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 622.
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 630.
 Tex. Prop. Code §52.001.
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 320.
 Aguirre v. State, 399 S.W.2d 804, 804 (Tex. Crim. App. 1966).
 Tex. R. Civ. P. 324(a)-(b).
 Tex. R. App. P. 26.1.
 McKenna v. State, 247 S.W.3d 716, 719 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008).