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Texas Supreme Court Rules Typed Copy of Grievance Decision Satisfies Chapter 14

The Supreme Court of Texas has held that a prisoner who submits a hand-typed copy of the prison grievance decision he received adequately meets the requirements of Chapter 14, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (TCPRC).

Michael Lou Garrett, a Texas state prisoner, filed a prison-related lawsuit in state district court. Because he filed the pro se suit in forma pauperis, Garrett’s case was subject to the provisions of TCPRC § 14.005(a)(2), which required that he file with the court “a copy of the written decision from the grievance system.”

Texas prisoners have no access to photocopiers. Therefore, Garrett filed a hand-typed, verbatim copy of the grievance decision. The trial court held that the word “copy” meant only a photocopy and dismissed the suit for failure to comply with § 14.005(a)(2). Garrett appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal with one judge dissenting. Garrett filed a petition for review, which the Texas Supreme Court granted. The Supreme Court held that because Chapter 14 does not contain a definition of the term “copy,” it must “apply its ordinary or common meaning,” which “includes a hand-typed, verbatim reproduction.”
Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and returned the case to the trial court for further proceedings. See: Garrett v. Borden, 283 S.W.3d 852 (Tex. 2009).

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Related legal case

Garrett v. Borden