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Court Procedures

ORAL DOCKET

Any party requesting an oral hearing should call the court clerk for a date and time. A formal request for oral hearing is required. The court’s oral docket is Friday at 9:00 a.m.

 

SUBMISSION DOCKET

 

The Submission Docket is held on Mondays at 8:00 a.m. with ten days notice.

 

HOW DO I CONTACT THE COURT FOR AN EMERGENCY HEARING?

           

Call the Court Clerk during court hours.   An emergency hearing will not be granted unless the parties have conferred about the matter. Only the Court can determine if an emergency hearing is necessary.  The Court frequently will be available for a telephone conference.

 

TEMPORARY INJUCTION HEARINGS

 

Please call the court coordinator at (713) 368-6405 to obtain a hearing date.  TIs are set on Fridays at 11:00 a.m.  It is imperative that we know whether or not you are ready to proceed with the hearing and how long the hearing will take. We may need to reschedule your hearing and extend the TRO until a convenient time for the court.

 

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

 

Can be set on the submission or oral docket.  Contact the court clerk for an available date.  If motion is set on the submission docket and opposing counsel would like it heard on the oral docket, submit a request in writing.

 

MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

 

Can be set on the submission or oral docket.  Contact the court clerk for an available date.  

MOTION TO SUBSTITUTE COUNSEL 

Needs to be signed by all parties or attach a Certificate of Conference stating all parties are in agreement of substutition.  If not agreed by all, Motion to Substitute Counsel needs to be set on the submission docket.

MOTION TO REINSTATE

Need to set on the submission docket.

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

 

What are the Court’s procedures for referring cases to alternative dispute resolution?

 

The DCO will have a deadline for the parties to inform the Court of their ADR strategy. ADR does not have to be in the form of mediation; however, mediation is the easiest ADR technique for the Court to administer.

 

When a mediator/neutral has been agreed to by the parties, please inform the Court by writing a letter to the Coordinator in order for that information to be entered in the Clerk’s computer system. If the ADR deadline passes and no agreed mediator/neutral is in the Clerk’s computer system for your case, the Court will order a mediator and a deadline by which mediation should be accomplished. Both the DCO and any mediation order are, in fact, court orders and should be given the same attention as any other court order.

 

If the ADR deadline or the assigned mediator is not appropriate for your case, please file a motion to that effect at least thirty days before the ADR deadline. An agreed motion to modify the DCO or to substitute the mediator will be considered by the Court without a hearing. 

 

The Court maintains a list of persons requesting appointment as mediators. Any qualified lawyer who sends the Court a resume and/or letter of interest will be added to the list; however, that is not a guarantee of appointment. The Court requires a high degree of professionalism from appointed mediators. Please contact the Court if the mediator in your case is especially effective or is ineffective.

 

If an objection to ADR is required, when should it be filed?

 

An objection to ADR should be filed by the deadline specified in the DCO. The objection should address whether mediation should be conducted, not when it should be conducted. Unless an objection to ADR has been granted, all cases are expected to expend a good faith effort in ADR before going to trial. Failure to honor the Court’s ADR deadline will not be cause for a trial continuance, but may lead to sanctions.

 

TRIAL CONTINUANCES

 

Continuances should be filed early. Joint motions will not necessarily be granted. The more detail in your motion, the better the chance for granting. 

AGREED MOTION FOR CONTINUANCE

Agreed Motions do not have to be placed on the court’s docket. Just file them with the Court for consideration. If an agreed motion is denied without a hearing, you can request a subsequent oral hearing on the motion.

 

TRIALS

 

Pre-trial orders are due two weeks before trial. This can be extended by agreement. The notice from the Court sets out the requirements.  If you anticipate a challenge to an expert’s qualifications that will take more than 15-30 minutes to hear, do not wait until the first day of trial. Please discuss scheduling of the challenge with the Court at an earlier status conference.  Time for voir dire depends on the complexity of the case. After the general voir dire, individual jurors can be questioned at the bench for cause. Do not bring a jury questionnaire to the first day of trial.  All cases are automatically set for trial after the answer of a defendant. Most cases are reset within 3 to 6 months if not reached at the first setting.

If the trial is set during the summer months and you have a vacation letter on file for the designated two-week trial docket, you are to submit a letter to the Court indicating you are asserting your vacation letter.

Do not make an appearance for trial until you have received a call from the trial coordinator, assigning you to trial on a specific date and time. 

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