Rule 11 agreements are terms that a party can agree on and have the same affect as a court order. So long as the agreement satisfies the requirements of Texas Civil Procedure 11, these agreements are enforceable.
Can I get out of a Rule 11 agreement that I entered into by mistake?
There are certain situations where these agreements can be considered void; one way to make the agreement void is by showing the agreement was made by mistake. In the Dallas 5th District Court of Appeals case, In the Interest of A.B. & D.Y, a mother wanted to void a Rule 11 agreement that she had made because she claimed the agreement was made by mistake. In this case, the court explained, “mutual mistake is an affirmative defense, that states when the parties to an agreement have contracted under a misconception or ignorance of a material fact, the agreement will be avoided.” When someone wants to void a Rule 11 agreement based on a mistake, it is up to that person to prove to the court that the agreement should be voided.
The mother in In the Interest of A.B. & D.Y., wanted to void a Rule 11 agreement that terminated her parental rights because of, what she claimed to be, a mutual mistake. The mother’s children were taken from her by the state and she did not follow court orders that established how she could get her children back. The mother argued that she entered into the Rule 11 agreement to terminate her parental rights before knowing that, because of a criminal matter, she would be receiving Department services that would provide housing and help stabilize her life. On appeal, the mother wanted to void the Rule 11 agreement based on mutual mistake, because she did not know that she would be receiving help through her probation. Unfortunately though, before the appeal and during the trial process, the mother did not mention or raise the mutual mistake issue and the trial court never considered it. Therefore, the appeals court enforced the Rule 11 agreement that terminated the mother’s parental rights.
If you want to raise a mutual mistake issue on a Rule 11 agreement you need to make sure that you bring the mistake to the court’s attention as soon as possible. Then, even if the trial court does not agree that the issue is a mutual mistake, when you appeal it, the appeals court will have something to review. Be sure, though, if you want to prove a mutual mistake that you have evidence showing that the Rule 11 agreement was made under some kind of misconception or that you made the agreement without knowledge of certain material facts pertaining to your case.