Let the clichés flow: It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Every dog has his day. A dog is man’s best friend. On Aug. 25, the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin issued a memorandum opinion affirming a trial court’s judgment that allowed Brooke Ashley Calder to keep a Chihuahua named Clementine. Daniel Naeter Calder, who filed for a divorce from Brooke Ashley in 2009, had appealed to the 3rd Court, challenging a trial court’s judgment confirming that Clementine was Brooke’s separate property. The memorandum opinion was issued by a panel of three, including Justices Bob Pemberton and Alan Waldrop and the opinion’s author, Chief Justice J. “Woodie” Woodfin Jones. Jones writes that Clementine was purchased before the marriage took place and therefore was separate, not community, property. The partners in the dissolving marriage agreed about that but disagreed about whose separate property Clementine is. Why? Prior to the marriage, the couple commingled their separate funds in Daniel’s bank account; the disagreement is based on whose money purchased Clementine, the opinion states. Jones notes that Daniel asserted on appeal that no evidence supported the trial court’s finding that the funds Brooke put into Daniel’s account were held there for her benefit. But the chief writes that Daniel and Brooke testified that, after putting her paychecks into his account, he gave her the money either immediately or as she requested it. She put $948 into the account a few days before she purchased Clementine, and she testified that he agreed to let her buy a dog only if her own money paid for it, according to the opinion. The 3rd Court concludes that the evidence was sufficient to support the trial court’s judgment that Clementine belonged to Brooke. Zachary Brandl, an associate with Weinman & Associates in Austin, represents Daniel. Asked how much his client spent on appealing the case, Brandl says, “Too much.” He says he did advise his client not to pursue an appeal of the trial court’s judgment. Brooke’s lawyer, James Arth, an Austin solo, says he handled the case on a pro bono basis and that Amy Lambert, an associate with a firm with which he shares office space, wrote the brief. Lambert, an associate with the Law Office of Jennifer Tull, says it was her first appellate brief. Asked why she chipped in her work pro bono, she says, “I have a dog. When I realized the case was going to appeal, I couldn’t leave her high and dry.” Arth has not yet reached his client, who has moved with Clementine to Manhattan for graduate school, to tell her about the decision. But he left a message. Does Clementine listen to Brooke’s voicemails?
-- Miriam Rozen