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Court Procedures



Procedures for Practice in the 281st - Judge Matthews

Electronic Filing:


E-Filing. Starting January 1, 2014, attorneys must file electronically in all civil cases in Harris County district courts.  To select an Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP) and to file documents, you must register at www.efiletexas.gov.  To facilitate e-filing, kiosks are set up in the clerk’s office on the second floor of the courthouse and in the clerk’s office of the court.


Filing Color Exhibits.  If filing exhibits that are in color, please ensure that the document is scanned in color.  At the time of the hearing, please be prepared to provide a courtesy copy of any color exhibits.   


Naming Pleadings.  When filing documents, the exact name as it appears on the pleading is to be used.  The name of the pleading appears on the search results or summary page for the case.  To simplify the search results page, please limit the title of documents to no more than 10 words, unless additional words are necessary.  For example, avoid naming conventions such as:  Defendant ABC International Corporation’s Reply to Plaintiff Sally Jane Smith’s First Amended Response to Defendant’s Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment Regarding Statute of Limitations. 

Protection of Sensitive Data in Pleadings:

Sensitive Data.   Before filing a pleading that includes personal identifiable information such as a social security number, a driver’s license number, passport number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or other financial account information, or medical and /or health information, please review Rule 21c.  


Motion Practice:

Certificate of Conference.  Please review Harris County Local Rule 3.3.6 and include a certificate of conference when required by the Rules.


Agreed Motions.  An agreed motion need not be set on the Court’s docket.  File directly with the court clerk for consideration. 


Setting an Oral Hearing.  Any party seeking an oral hearing should call the court clerk and request a date and time.  The Court’s oral docket is held on Friday at 9:00 am for most motions, 10:00 for summary judgments, and 11:00 for hearings in which evidence will be offered (including petitions for name change).  If a motion for the 9:00 docket will take longer than 10 minutes, please notify the court clerk. 


Special Settings.  If a motion is complex or the parties expect lengthy argument, please contact the court clerk to discuss a special setting.  Such requests will be granted at the discretion and availability of the Court.


Late Filed Responses.  Please advise the court clerk of any late filed responses so the Court will be able to review it prior to the hearing.  Additionally, please bring an extra copy of the response to the hearing in case the Court needs a copy. 


Cancelling an Oral Hearing.  If the parties no longer require an oral hearing, please notify the clerk – as soon as possible. 


Appearance by Phone.  Appearances by telephone and hearings by teleconference may be arranged through the court clerk. 


Submission Docket.  The submission docket is every Monday at 8:00 am after 10 days’ notice.  A notice of submission is required.  Any party may request an oral hearing.  Any party requesting oral hearing, or requesting a motion be removed from the submission docket and placed on the oral hearing docket, must give notice of the hearing to all parties.


Motions for Summary Judgment.   If a motion has more than 10 exhibits, the Court requests that an index of the exhibits be filed with the motion.  In cases where a motion has more than 10 exhibits, a courtesy copy of the exhibits is appreciated.  Copies of relevant cases are also appreciated.  Highlighting is acceptable as long as highlighted copies are provided to all counsel. 


Motions for Default Judgment.  Unless a hearing is necessary to prove up damages, the motion should be set on the submission docket.  Notice to the nonmovant is required. 


Motions for Substituted Service.  The following is a link to the Court’s Form Order Granting a Rule 106 Motion: [FORM 106 ORDER].  All Rule 106 motions must be filed with a proposed order in this form.


Emergency Motions.  If both sides agree that an emergency hearing is appropriate, please call the court clerk to arrange.  If there is no agreement, file the motion along with a request for emergency hearing. 


Motion to Withdraw As Attorney


1.         Compliance with Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 10 is required.  A phone number must be included with the client’s contact information.


2.         Additionally, attach to the motion a copy of the letter from the attorney of record to the client giving the client notice (a) that the attorney is withdrawing; (b) that the client is deemed to have knowledge of and is required to abide by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure if the client chooses to proceed pro se; (c) that all notices from the court to the client’s current address will be deemed to have been received unless the client notifies the court of any change of address; (d) that no continuances or extensions will be granted to the pro se client to obtain other counsel; and (e) of submission or hearing at which the motion to withdraw will be considered. 


3.         Moreover, if the client is a corporation, the attorney must notify the client that a corporation cannot proceed pro se, and if the corporation has not obtained new counsel within 30 days, a default judgment may be entered against the corporation if it is a defendant or its claims may be dismissed if it is a plaintiff. 

Pre-Trial Procedure:

Scheduling Pre-Trial Conferences.  Pre-trial conferences are held immediately before trial begins, unless otherwise scheduled by the Court.  If a case will require a lengthy pre-trial conference, please notify the court coordinator.  


Pre-Trial Conferences.  Parties are required to exchange motions in limine, designations of deposition excerpts, exhibit lists, and proposed charges in advance of the pre-trial conference.  Deposition designations are to be exchanged one week before trial.  Motions in limine and exhibit lists must be exchanged at least one day in advance.  At the pre-trial conference, the Court will rule on motions in limine, objections to deposition excerpts, and objections to exhibits.  Exhibits should be pre-marked in advance of the pre-trial conference.  Exhibits to which no objection is made will be admitted into evidence in advance of trial. 


Bench Trials.  Parties are required to file and exchange proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law in advance of trial.  Exhibits lists should also be exchanged. Exhibits should be pre-marked in advance of trial.  Exhibits to which no objection is made will be admitted into evidence in advance of trial.


Motions for Continuance.  First motions for continuance may be granted for good cause or upon agreement of the parties if filed sufficiently in advance of the trial setting (more than one week).  Unavailability of a mediator is not considered good cause.  Agreed first motions for continuance may be submitted immediately for ruling without submission or oral hearing. 


Trial Procedure:

Trial Settings.  Cases are automatically scheduled for trial pursuant to a docket control order.  If a case is filed as a Level 3 case or the parties anticipate special consideration in scheduling, the parties may submit an agreed scheduling order to the Court. 


Preferential Settings.  Although the Court does not grant requests for preferential trial settings, you are encouraged to let the coordinator know of any specific issues related to your trial - for example, a large number of witnesses who reside out of town, complex subject matter, significant injury or damages for which time may be of the essence, or length of trial.


Expedited Trial Settings.  If a recently filed case meets the requirements for an expedited action under Rule 169, please notify the court coordinator so that an appropriate trial setting may be given.


Summer Trial Settings.   Settings during summer months may require that all parties waive any vacation letters on file. 


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


Juror Notes.  Jurors are allowed to take notes during the trial and to use their notes during deliberations. 


Procedure for Temporary Injunctions:

TIs are set on Fridays at 11:00 am.   Please call the court clerk for available hearing dates.  Please advise the clerk whether the matter will be ready at the time previously assigned and how much time the parties anticipate needing.  The TI may need to be rescheduled, depending on the Court’s schedule.


Procedures for Delinquent Tax Cases:

This Court's delinquent tax cases are not referred to a master.  Therefore, the Tax Protocol does not apply to these cases. 


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