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11th District Court Procedures - old version

IF YOU CURRENTLY HAVE A HEARING SET ON A MONDAY PLEASE CONTACT THE COURT CLERK FOR A RESET - DOCKETS ARE CURRENTLY GOING TO BE HELD ON TUESDAYS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.  832-927-2600

1. HEARING LOCATION

The 11th District Court is currently sharing space with the 55th District Court.
Consequently, the 11th District Court conducts oral hearings on Tuesdays in the
55th District Court’s courtroom.1 When the courtroom is unavailable, the Court
may conduct hearings in other locations, such as other courtrooms, the jury room,
or chambers. Contact the clerk for specific locations. See the attached form
notice of hearing for 11th court hearings.docx

2. CONTACTING THE COURT

For matters relating to hearings and motions, contact:

Gabriela DeLaRosa
832-927-2600
gabriela.delarosa@hcdistrictclerk.com

Justin Fitzgerald
832-927-2600
justin.fitzgerald@hcdistrictclerk.com

Contact the clerk for the status on any agreed or unopposed orders submitted to
the Court.

To determine whether the Court has ruled on a motion, please check the case
docket sheet at the District Clerk’s website for any comments or contact the
Court for status.

For matters relating to trials, contact:
Jackie Struss
832-927-2606
jackie_struss@justex.net

For matters relating to transcripts, contact:
Terri Anderson
832-927-2608
terri_anderson@justex.net

3. E-FILING

The Rules of Civil Procedure require litigants to electronically file documents and
pleadings with the Harris County District Clerk. Litigants need prior authorization
from the Court before hand-delivering or faxing documents directly to the Court.
_____________________________________________
1 Even though these rules state that hearings are on Mondays, the oral hearing docket and
temporary injunctions will be on Tuesdays until further notice.

The District Court Clerks will not accept documents delivered directly to the
court for filing. Litigants are responsible for ensuring that documents become part
of the Court’s record by e-filing the documents.

3.1 E-FILING INSTRUCTIONS

Type the entire title of your pleading in the description field.
Do not split your documents.
Clearly label all exhibits.
Do not attach proposed orders as exhibits.

4. MOTIONS

4.1 CERTIFICATES OF CONFERENCE

A certificate of conference is required on all motions, pleas, and special exceptions
except for:

    summary judgments;
    default judgments;
    motions for voluntary dismissal or non-suit;
    post-verdict motions; and
    motions involving service of citation.

The movant must confer person-to-person with opposing counsel before the
Court will consider a motion that requires a conference. The Court will pass
motions that do not have a certificate stating (1) that the movant has actually
talked to opposing counsel, or (2) why counsel have not been able to discuss the
motion.

A certificate of conference stating that you sent a letter or email to opposing
counsel and received no response is not a proper certificate of conference.

4.2 ORDERS

File orders with all motions and responses. The Court will pass motions filed
without proposed orders. On occasion the Court may require parties to email
longer or more complex proposed orders in Word format to the court clerk.
When submitting a proposed order after a hearing, include a cover letter and
indicate whether the order is agreed to as to form.

4.3 AGREED MOTIONS

The Court may hear agreed or unopposed motions by submission.
All unopposed or agreed motions should be titled as such.

Agreed motions must contain the appropriate signatures.
Unopposed motions must contain a certificate of conference.
If the Court denies an agreed or unopposed motion, a litigant may request a
subsequent oral hearing on that motion.

4.4 MOTION RESPONSES

E-file motion responses at least 48-hours before the hearing and include a
proposed order.

4.5 COURTESY COPIES

The Court accepts courtesy copies of motions over 15 pages. Courtesy copies
should include the motion and all exhibits. If possible, include any response and
responsive exhibits in the same binder.

4.6 DISCOVERY MOTIONS

The Court expects that parties will make every effort to resolve all discovery
issues without court intervention. If such attempts prove unsuccessful, litigants
may request a hearing on a motion to compel. The complaining party should file a
motion containing:

    a brief description of dispute;
    the date, time, and place the parties have had out of-court discovery
    discussions;
    the names of all counsel participating in the discussions; and
    a copy or verbatim reproduction of the discovery requests and responses
    at issue.

After filing the motion, call the Court about a hearing. The Court will then
determine the need for briefing and/or a conference on the matter.

Proposed orders should list each discovery issue separately.
Both the movant and non-movant need to submit a proposed order.

4.7 SUMMARY JUDGMENTS

Motions can be set at the first available hearing 21 days after the motion is filed.
Contact the court clerk for a hearing date.

Do not wait until the last minute to file your motion or request a
hearing.(See Texas Rules of Court 166a(c) for notice requirements.)

Summary judgments must be set for hearing at least one month before trial. Latefiled summary judgments will not delay a trial setting.

Proposed orders granting summary judgments should include damages and, if
applicable, attorney's fees. The motion should show how damages are calculated
and provide supporting evidence. For example, in a case involving a breach of a
credit card agreement, the plaintiff should provide evidence showing how the
plaintiff calculated the amount due by the debtor.

4.8 CONTINUANCES

File motions for continuances as early as practicable and state whether the client
consents to the request.

Unless the Court deems it necessary, hearings are not required for the first or
second agreed motion for continuance. The Court will not automatically grant
joint motions for continuance after the second request. Third motions for
continuance must contain sufficient detail, demonstrate substantial need, and be
set for hearing even if agreed.

If the parties agree to a summer setting, they must also agree to waive vacation
letters.

4.9 DEFAULT JUDGMENTS

Movants must attach all evidence supporting the motion and damages to the
motion for default or the Court will pass the hearing.

The Court sets default judgments on the oral hearing docket.

The movant must serve all defaulting parties with the motion, proposed judgment,
and notice of the hearing pursuant to TRCP 21(a).

When proving damages in a motion for default judgment, the movant should
provide evidence to support the damage calculation and show how the damages
were calculated.

4.10 SUBSTITUTED-SERVICE MOTIONS

All motions for Substituted Service under Rule 106 must be accompanied by an
affidavit that:

    describes the efforts taken to verify that defendant actually lives or works
    at the subject address;
    lists at least four attempts of service at different times of day with the
    specific dates and times;
    details the identity of person(s) present at the subject address and states
    what was said;
    provides the identity of the owners of any cars in the driveway; and
    includes any other indications that defendant resides at the subject address.

File an order with all Rule 106 motions. Movants can find a form order here.
Substituted Service Order.doc

4.11 PROTECTIVE ORDERS

Protective Orders containing a provision stating that any documents filed in the
records of the court shall be sealed and not open for viewing by the general public
must be changed to comply with Rule 76a of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
Litigants can find a form Agreed Protective Order here.
Agreed Order Protecting Confidential Information.PDF

4.12 MOTION TO WITHDRAW

Motions to withdraw as attorney of record require strict compliance with Rule 10
of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Motions in which the party will be pro se
after the attorney withdraws must include:

    the party’s telephone number;
    the party’s address;
    the party’s email address;
    a statement regarding consultation with the party regarding the motion;
    and
    current deadlines and trial settings.

Orders on motions to withdraw must include contact information for the pro se
party.

The Court does not generally grant motions to withdraw that are filed within 60
days of a dispositive event, such as a trial setting or a hearing on a motion for
summary judgment.

If the withdrawing attorney represents a corporation, she/he must notify the
corporate party that:

    corporations cannot proceed pro se in Texas courts; and
    that if the corporation has not obtained counsel within 30 days of the order
    of withdrawal, either its claims may be dismissed if it is the plaintiff or the
    pleadings struck and a default judgment may be entered if it is the
    defendant.

Motions to substitute counsel must indicate whether the attorney being replaced
has agreed to the substitution and have the appropriate certificates of conference
and service.

4.13 MOTIONS TO RETAIN

After the Court has retained a case three times or more, the movant must set the
motion to retain for oral hearing or the Court will dismiss the case.

4.14 SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS

Movants must either (1) attach a copy of the pleading being excepted to (unless
the exception is only to the amount of damages sought) or (2) state verbatim the
paragraph being except to. Proposed orders should list each exception separately.

4.16 MOTION FOR SEVERANCE

Motions for severance must be set for oral hearing and state the basis for the
severance.

The order of severance must include the following information:

    Style of the case;
    Case number, i.e. 2006-32041 -A;
    Parties to be included in the severed case;
    Documents to be included in the severed case;
    Whether the severed order disposes of the severed case or if the case
    shall remain active; and
    The party paying for the costs of court and severance.

5. H
EARINGS

5.1 YOUNG LAWYERS
The Court strongly encourages the lawyers to provide opportunities for young
lawyers (i.e., lawyers practicing for less than seven years) to participate in hearings
and trials, particularly when the young lawyer drafted or contributed significantly
to the underlying motion or response. Providing substantive speaking
opportunities to young lawyers benefits the profession, the lawyers, and the
clients. The Court encourages all lawyers practicing before it to keep this goal in
mind.

5.2 ORAL HEARING DOCKET

All motions that are not agreed or unopposed are set on the Court's oral hearing
docket.

The Court conducts oral hearings on Mondays. Call the clerk for a hearing date
and time. Do not request a hearing in your motion.

Parties must file and serve the notice of the hearing along with the motion and
order within 48 hours after obtaining the setting or the Court may pass the setting
without further notice.

Movants must provide ten-day notice for hearings.

When passing a hearing, call the court clerk and all parties as soon as possible.

5.3 TEMPORARY INJUNCTIONS

Temporary injunctions are set on Mondays at 1:30 p.m.

Before scheduling hearings, movants should call the Court and advise (1) regarding
readiness to proceed with the hearing, and (2) the estimated length of the hearing.
Depending on trial schedules and the length of the hearing, the Court may find it
necessary to extend the TRO and reschedule the temporary-injunction hearing.
Parties should not bring witnesses to court until checking with the court clerk.

5.4 Minor Settlements

The Court must approve the disposition of all cases involving minors.

In motions requesting the appointment of a guardian ad litem, please include a
brief description of the nature of the suit and the alleged damages. The motion
must advise the Court if the guardian or attorney ad litem should be fluent in a
language other than English. The Court will appoint ad litems based on the
complexity of the case and the ad litem’s experience.

5.5 EXPEDITED HEARINGS

Any party requesting an expedited or emergency hearing must file a detailed
request.

5.6 APPEARANCE BY PHONE

The Court allows attorneys in non-evidentiary hearings to appear by phone; please
contact the Clerk to make arrangements.

If more than one person wants to appear by phone at a scheduled hearing, the
attorneys must all conference in on one line and then call the Court. The Court
will not arrange the conference.

5.7 FAXES AND EMAILS

The Rules of Civil Procedure require pleadings and documents to be e-filed. Do
not fax or email documents to the Court with express authorization. Faxing and
emailing does not replace the e-filing requirement. The clerk may destroy
unauthorized faxed or emailed documents.

6. TRIALS

File and exchange exhibit lists, motions in limine, deposition offers, and proposed
jury charges or proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law with the Court
one week before trial.

Cases are automatically set for trial when a defendant files an answer. If the Court
does not reach a case during the first setting, it will be reset within 2 to 4 months.

The 11th District Court does not have a docket call. Do not appear unless you
have been assigned to trial. All cases are on call for the entire two-week docket.

6.1 STATUS AND PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES

If a party anticipates needing more than 36 potential jurors for a jury panel, the
party must set a status conference with the Court at least 60 days in advance.

On the day of trial, the Court allots 30 minutes per side for pre-trial matters.

If a party anticipates needing more than 30 minutes for pre-trial, the party must
schedule a status conference at least 60 days in advance so the Court can schedule
enough time for pre-trial matters, including expert-witness challenges, rulings on
exhibits, and rulings on deposition excerpts.

6.2 MOTIONS IN LIMINE

The parties must exchange motions in limine before the pre-trial conference. Limit
your motion in limine to the specific facts and circumstances in your case.

6.3 EXPERT WITNESS CHALLENGES

Parties must file expert witness challenges by the deadline set out in the docket
control order. Parties shall set all motions to challenge experts for hearing before
the trial date.

6.4 JURY CHARGE

The parties must use the Court’s proposed jury charge form.
 boiler plate jury charge.doc

The parties must file their proposed jury charge and email the proposed charge in
Word format to Terri Anderson.

6.5 VOIR DIRE

Time for voir dire depends on the complexity of the case.

If the parties want to employ a jury questionnaire, they need to discuss the matter
with the Court at a status conference before the first day of trial.

Counsel should not ask questions to commit the juror.

The Court discourages argument during voir dire and will sustain objections to
argument.

Counsel should challenge jurors outside the presence of the panel and the juror.

6.6 FINDINGS OF FACTS AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

Parties should file their proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law with the
Court. Parties should also email proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law
in Word form to Terri Anderson or Gabriela DeLaRosa.

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