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RULES OF THE JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURTS OF HARRIS COUNTY

DISTRICT COURTS TRYING CRIMINAL CASES

Adopted by Board of Judges–9/12/96; Approved by Supreme Court–9/13/96 Amended 4/12/07

 

 

The  rules  of  the  Judicial District  Courts  of  Harris County, District Courts Trying  Criminal Cases, as recorded in Volume 1759, Page 537 of the General  Minutes of said Courts, read as follows:

 

Rule 6.10.       Grand Jury

 

Rule 6.11.       Filings

                        Return of Indictment

 

Rule 6.12.       Arraignment

                        Initial Appearance

 

The preliminary initial appearance shall be held in each of the District Courts sitting as a magistrate at 9:00 a.m. Monday through Friday. 

 

Preliminary Initial Appearance Dockets will be conducted by the Presiding Judge on each Saturday, Sunday and official holiday observed by the Court pursuant to procedures adopted by the Board of District Judges Trying Criminal Cases.

 

The Magistrate shall inform the defendant of the accusation and any affidavits filed therewith, and require the State to establish probable cause for further detention or restraint of the defendant.  If the Magistrate does not find that probable cause exists, the Magistrate shall order discharge of the defendant.

 

If the Magistrate finds probable cause exists, the Magistrate shall inform the defendant of his/her statutory rights as required by Art. 15.17 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure; the Magistrate shall identify the defendant's counsel and if the defendant is without counsel and is indigent, appoint counsel to represent defendant; and inform the defendant of the  defendant's right to waive indictment as provided in Art. 1.141 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The Magistrate shall set bail, and  if  bond  has been posted in amount of set bail, order such bond shall continue in effect; if bond in the amount of set bail has not been posted, the Magistrate shall determine whether the defendant is eligible for release on personal recognizance, and commit defendant to custody of the Sheriff subject to defendant's posting bond in the amount of set bail.

 

The Magistrate may at that time consider any waiver of statutory rights by the defendant and defendant's counsel and rule on same or reschedule the case for not to exceed two court days to consider and/or rule on any such waivers.

 

Should the defendant desire to waive indictment, same may be accomplished at this time.

 

This hearing will be to determine the attorney of record. The defendant will be formally arraigned, or the defendant may waive formal arraignment.  Pleas of guilty will be accepted, or the case will be rescheduled appropriately. The defendant will also have the opportunity to waive the right to a speedy trial at the arraignment setting.

 

Rule 6.13.       Appointment

                        of Counsel

 

The appointment of counsel for indigent defendants is handled individually in each of the District Courts.  The procedure for the appointments should be checked with each District Court Coordinator.  The appointments for appeals are made at the time a pauper's oath has been filed with the District Clerk.

 

The Harris County Auditor shall not pay any lawyer for legal services rendered on a case to which the lawyer has been appointed unless, prior to the appointment and the performance of legal services, the lawyer has successfully completed the training program and passed the examination promulgated by the District Courts Trying Criminal Cases and prescribed for the level of case, felony or capital, in which the legal services were rendered. 

 

Rule 6.14.       Appearance of

                        Defendant  & Counsel

                        Court Attendance

 

Defendant and defendant's attorney must be present during docket call.

 

 Permission for the defendant not to be present must be obtained by the attorney prior to the setting.

 

Attorney must notify the Judge or Court Coordinator prior to 9:00 a.m. if the attorney anticipates not being present at docket call.

 

Rule 6.15.       Withdrawal or Substitution of Counsel

If, prior to the disposition of a case, an appointed or retained attorney wishes to withdraw pursuant to DR 2-110, Code of Professional Responsibility, Vernon's Ann. Civ. Stat., Title 14 App., Art. 12, Sec. 8, or for any other reason, the attorney must file a  written motion to that effect with the Court.  Such motion  must be filed at least 15 days prior to a trial setting. If an attorney is retained to replace  existing counsel, the attorney must file a motion to substitute counsel, naming both himself and the attorney to be relieved.

A retained attorney of record at the time of trial will be considered the attorney of record in the event of an appeal unless the attorney files a written motion to withdraw when notice of appeal is given. 

 

Rule 6.16.       Bond and

                         Bond  Forfeiture

 

Rule 6.17.       Discovery

 

Rule 6.18.       Docket Calls

                        Announcements

 

Held at 9:00 a.m. unless otherwise directed by the Court.

 

Attorneys must announce "ready" or "not ready" upon call of trial or motion docket.  The Court will not accept an announcement of "hold" by either party.  If a case is placed on call, the attorneys must be readily available within one hour after notification from the Court that their case is ready to proceed.

 

Rule 6.19.       Continuance

                        Resetting

                        Postponement

 

When a case is to be rescheduled, a reset agreement must be prepared by the attorney seeking the reset and concurred in by opposing counsel.  Reset agreement forms may be obtained in the courtroom or Coordinator's office.  Upon completion, the reset agreement must be submitted for approval to the Judge or the Coordinator of the Court in which the case is pending, after which it is filed with the Court Clerk (District Clerk).  Future dates must be obtained from the Coordinator or Judge prior to leaving the courtroom.

 

Off docket resets must be handled in person by the attorney of record.  A reset agreement must be prepared by the attorneys and approved by the Judge or Coordinator of the Court where the case is pending. 

 

Rule 6.20.       Plea Bargains

 

Any setting prior to the motion hearings or trial setting shall be for the purpose of pretrial negotiations.  Cases should be resolved at the negotiation setting by either an agreement or a plea to the Court without recommendation.  Except with permission of the Trial Judge, conferences and negotiations by and between the attorney for the State and the attorney for the defendant while Court is in session will not be permitted.

 

 Rule 6.21.      Guilty Plea

                        Nolo Contendere

                        Open Pleas

 

Where cases are set for guilty or nolo pleas, all plea papers must be filed prior to the time the case is set for the plea.  The assistant district attorney handling the case will prepare the plea papers and submit them to the defense attorney for formal filing with the Court Clerk (District Clerk).

 

Rule 6.22 .      Speedy Trial

 

Rule 6.23.       Motions

                        Pre-Trial Hearlngs

                        Pre-Trial Matters

 

This setting is for the purpose of hearing all pre-trial motions.  All motions must be filed in accordance with the statute, and motions not timely filed may be filed only with permission of the Court. Failure to comply with this rule will result in a trial setting if the case is not otherwise disposed of.

 

All applications for subpoenas must be filed at least ten days prior to trial. Failure to comply will be cause for the Court to find a failure to exercise due diligence.

 

Rule 6.24.       Settings/Scheduling

 

Rule 6.25.       Order of Trial

                        Preferential Settings

                        Conflicting Engagements

 

Rule 6.26.       Witnesses/Evidence

 

Rule 6.27.       Non-Jury Trials

 

Rule 6.28.       Jury Trials

 

Rule 6.29.         Jury Selection/Voir Dire

 

Rule 6.30.            Probation Applications/ Deferred Adjudications

Rule 6.31.       Pre-Sentence Report

                        Court's Proposed Sentence

 

Rule 6.32.       Judgements/Orders

 

Rule 6.33.       Occupational

                        Driver's Licenses

 

The Court in which a defendant has been convicted will maintain continuing jurisdiction for the purpose of Occupational / Restricted Drivers License.  Petitioners seeking Occupa-tional / Restricted Drivers License must file a pleading indicating that they have not previously filed for application for the same in any County or District Court of Harris County.

 

Rule 6.34.    Probation Revocations

                      Motions to Adjudicate

                      Habeas Corpus

 

Where applicant has pending case.

 

Application for writ of habeas corpus involving a pending case shall be filed with and heard by the Court in which that case is pending.  Either the Judge or Coordinator will set the writ for hearing.

 

Where applicant does not have pending case.

 

Application for writ of habeas corpus involving matters not pre-assigned to a court shall be filed with and heard by the Presiding Judge, and in the absence of the Presiding Judge, the Co-Presiding Judge.

 

Post conviction writs.

 

Application for writ of habeas corpus following a final conviction is processed in accordance with Art.  11.07, Texas Code of Criminal Pro-cedure.

 

Rule 6.35.       Appeals from

                        Lower Courts

 

Rule 8.10.       Absence of Judges

 

In the event that a District Court Judge is absent for vacation, sick leave, attendance at conferences, or similar matters, the Administrative Judge of the respective Trial Division (Civil, Criminal, Family or Juvenile) shall in writing notify the Local Administrative Judge, who in turn will cause the request to be transmitted to the Administrative Judge of the 2nd Administrative Judicial Region of Texas.  The form for this request shall be made available through the Administrative Office of the District Courts.

A Visiting Judge will be assigned only with the approval of the Administrative Judge of the respective Trial Division.

Rule 10.          Emergencies &

                        Special Matters

 

The responsibility for emergencies and special matters will become the function of a Judge on Duty:

 

 A.   Term.  The function of the Judge on Duty is rotated among the District Judges Trying Criminal Cases.  Each Judge will serve two weeks as Judge on Duty.  Judge on Duty terms commence at 7:00 a.m. on the first Monday of the term of service.  Schedule of Judges on Duty is published by the Administrative Office.

 

B.    Judicial Function of the Judge on Duty.

 

  1.   Hear writs not pre-assigned or where the pre-assigned Court Judge is unavailable.

 

  2.   Meet with the Administrative Judge when emergencies dictate.

 

  3.   Substitute for the Administrative Judge in his or her absence.

 

  4.   Appointment of attorney prior to PIA hearing. 

 

  5.   Available to sign warrants twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week during Judge on Duty term.

 

  6.   Handles all waivers of extradition, writs of habeas corpus (where charges are not pending in the District Court), out-of-state witness.

 

  7.   Handle their own docket.

 

  8.   Authorized, upon receipt of motion for assignment, to approve assignment of cases and/or transfers of cases among the undersigned district courts. 

 

  9.   Has authority to sign Pre-Trial Bonds.

 

 

Harris County Administrative Offices of the District Courts 2006
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