Practice Before the Courts of Appeal

By: Georganna Simpson

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. GENERALLY
  3. FIRST COURT OF APPEALS (HOUSTON)
  4. SECOND COURT OF APPEALS (FORT WORTH)
  5. THIRD COURT OF APPEALS (AUSTIN)
  6. FOURTH COURT OF APPEALS (SAN ANTONIO)
  7. FIFTH COURT OF APPEALS (DALLAS)
  8. SIXTH COURT OF APPEALS (TEXARKANA)
  9. SEVENTH COURT OF APPEALS (AMARILLO)
  10. EIGHTH COURT OF APPEALS (EL PASO)
  11. NINTH COURT OF APPEALS (BEAUMONT)
  12. TENTH COURT OF APPEALS (WACO)
  13. ELEVENTH COURT OF APPEALS (EASTLAND)
  14. TWELFTH COURT OF APPEALS (TYLER)
  15. THIRTEENTH COURT OF APPEALS (CORPUS CHRISTI)
  16. FOURTEENTH COURT OF APPEALS (HOUSTON)

I. INTRODUCTION

Today, there are fourteen courts of appeals. Since 1981, the fourteen courts of appeal have intermediate appellate jurisdiction of both civil and criminal cases appealed from the district and county courts in the counties that make up each court’s district. See Tex. Const. art. V § 6 (amended 1985). Because the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals automatically reviews all appeals in which the death penalty is assessed, the fourteen courts of appeal do not hear death-penalty appeals. These courts also have jurisdiction to issue:

  1. all writs necessary to enforce its jurisdiction;
  2. writs of habeas corpus in specified civil contempt matters;
  3. writs of mandamus
    • directed at the judges of the district and county courts,
    • directed at district judges or the clerk of the First Court related to supplying judicial statistics,
    • in election disputes, and
    • in certain venue disputes; and
  4. writs of injunction, mandamus, and prohibition in specified matters related to the Railroad Commission’s oil-and-gas conservation rules and orders.

Each court of appeals has jurisdiction in a specific geographical region of the State. The number of justices on each court is set by statute and ranges from three to thirteen. Presently, there are eighty justices authorized for these courts. Each court is presided over by a Chief Justice and has at least two other justices. Appeals are usually heard by a panel of three (3) justices. Justices of these courts are elected in partisan elections by the voters of the geographical areas they serve. The appellate justices must have the same qualifications for office as the justices of the Texas Supreme Court. Vacancies are filled by appointment of the Governor.

The Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adopted Standards for Appellate Conduct, which are followed by all of the intermediate courts of appeal. Appendix A.

II. GENERALLY

A. Notice of Appeal.

A party perfects an appeal by filing a written notice of appeal with the trial court clerk. The trial court clerk must immediately send a copy of the notice of appeal to the appellate court clerk and to the court reporter or court reporters responsible for preparing the reporter’s record. Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(f). If the party mistakenly files the notice of appeal with the appellate court, the notice is deemed to be filed with the trial court clerk on that same day, and the appellate clerk must immediately send the trial court clerk a copy of the notice. The filing of a notice of appeal invokes the jurisdiction of the appellate court. The party that is seeking to alter the trial court’s judgment is the person who files the notice of appeal. Parties whose interests are aligned may file a joint notice of appeal. Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(a)–(c).

In an accelerated appeal, the notice of appeal must be filed within twenty days after the judgment or order is signed. Tex. R. App. P. 26.1(b). For a regular appeal, a notice of appeal must be filed within thirty days after the judgment is signed. However, the notice must be filed within ninety days after the judgment is signed if any party timely files a motion for new trial, a motion to modify the judgment, a motion to reinstate after a dismissal for want of prosecution, or a request for findings of fact and conclusions of law if findings and conclusions are required by the Rules of Civil Procedure or, if not required, could be properly considered by the appellate court. Tex. R. App. P. 26.1(a). In a restricted appeal, the notice of appeal must be filed within six months after the judgment or order is signed. Tex. R. App. P. 26.1(c).

The notice should (1) identify the trial court and the cause number and style of the case; (2) state the date of judgment or order from which the party is appealing; (3) state that the party desires to appeal; (4) designate the court to which the appeal is taken, unless the appeal is to either the first or fourteenth court of appeals, in which case the notice must state that the appeal is to either of those courts; and (5) state the name of each party filing the notice. Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(d)(1)–(5). The appellant must serve the notice of appeal on all parties to the trial court’s final judgment and file a copy with the appellate court clerk. Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(e). In an accelerated appeal, the notice must also state that the appeal is accelerated. Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(d)(6). In a restricted appeal, the notice must also state that the appellant is a party affected by the judgment but that he did not participate in the hearing resulting in the judgment; state that the appellant did not file a timely post-judgment motion, request for findings of fact and conclusions of law, or notice of appeal; and be verified by the appellant if the appeal is pro se. Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(d)(7). The appellant is not required to specify issues in a general or restricted notice of appeal under Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(d).

B. Docketing Statement.

The appellant, on perfecting the appeal, must file with the court of appeals a docketing statement containing specified information. Tex. R. App. P. 32.1. A uni-form docketing statement can be downloaded from the various court websites. The rules do not provide a specific process for compelling the filing of the docketing statement. If the appellant’s failure to file the docketing statement is deemed to constitute want of prosecution or a failure to comply with a requirement of the appellate rules, a court order, or a deadline of the appellate court, dismissal of the appeal or affirmance of the appealed judgment or order may be ordered. See Tex. R. App. P. 42.3.

C. Filing of Clerk’s Record and Reporter’s Records.

The appellate record consists of the clerk’s record and the reporter’s record. Generally, the appellate record must be filed in the appellate court within sixty days after the judgment is signed. However, if any party has timely filed a Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 329b motion or if a request for findings of fact and conclusions of law has been filed if findings and conclusions either are required by the Rules of Civil Procedure or, if not required, could properly be considered by the appellate court, the appellate record must be filed in the appellate court within one-hundred twenty days after the judgment is signed. If an accelerated appeal is involved, the appellate record must be filed in the appellate court within ten days after the notice of appeal is filed. If a restricted appeal is involved, the appellate record must be filed in the appellate court within thirty days after the notice of appeal is filed.

The trial and appellate courts are jointly responsible for ensuring that the appellate record is timely filed. The appellate court may extend the deadline to file the record if requested by the clerk or reporter. Each extension must not exceed thirty days in an ordinary or restricted appeal, or ten days in an accelerated appeal. The appellate court must allow the record to be filed late when the delay is not the appellant’s fault, and may do so when the delay is the appellant’s fault. The appellate court may enter any order necessary to ensure the timely filing of the appellate record. Tex. R. App. P. 35.3(c).

  1. Clerk’s record.
    Although the Texas rules of Appellate Procedure 34.5(a), provide for what should be included in the clerk’s record, such as all pleadings, the court’s docket sheet, court’s judgment, the appellant should nevertheless file a specific request that includes the specific pleadings, orders, and other documents with the dates of filing or signing. Tex. R. App. P. 34.5(a). At any time before the clerk’s record is prepared, any party may file with the trial court clerk a written designation specifying additional items to be included in the record. A party requesting that an item be included in the clerk’s record must specifically describe the item so that the clerk can readily identify it. The clerk will disregard a general designation, such as one for “all papers filed in the case.” In a civil case, if a party requests that more items than necessary be included in the clerk’s record or any supplement, the appellate court may—regardless of the appeal’s outcome— require that party to pay the costs for the preparation of the unnecessary portion. Tex. R. App. P. 34.5(b). If a relevant item has been omitted from the clerk’s record, the trial court, the appellate court, or any party may by letter directed the trial court clerk to prepare, certify, and file in the appellate court a supplement containing the omitted item. Tex. R. App. P. 34.5(c).
    The trial court clerk is responsible for preparing, certifying, and timely filing the clerk’s record if: (1) a notice of appeal has been filed; and (2) the party responsible for paying for the preparation of the clerk’s record has paid the clerk’s fee, has made satisfactory arrangements with the clerk to pay the fee, or is entitled to appeal without paying the fee. Tex. R. App. P. 35.3(a).
    Once the clerk’s record is received, the appellate court will do a jurisdictional check to make sure that it has jurisdiction over the appeal. If there is a question regarding the court’s jurisdiction, the appellate court may ask the appellant to explain to the court why the appellant believes that the court has jurisdiction over the appeal.
  2. Reporter’s record.
    The reporter’s record contains the evidence received during the trial or hearing. In conjunction with the filing of the notice of appeal, the appellant must request in writing that the official reporter prepare the reporter’s record. The request must designate the exhibits to be included. A request to the court reporter— but not the court recorder—must also designate the portions of the proceedings to be included. The appellant must file this request with the trial court clerk. Tex. R. App. P. 34.6(b).
    The official or deputy reporter is responsible for preparing, certifying, and timely filing the reporter’s record if: (1) a notice of appeal has been filed; (2) the appellant has requested that the reporter’s record be prepared; and (3) the party responsible for paying for the preparation of the reporter’s record has paid the reporter’s fee, or has made satisfactory arrangements with the reporter to pay the fee, or is entitled to appeal without paying the fee. Tex. R. App. P. 35.3(b).

D. Motions.

Generally, a party must apply by motion for an order or other relief. The motion must: (1) contain or be accompanied by any matter specifically required by a rule governing such a motion; (2) state with particularity the grounds on which it is based; (3) set forth the order or relief sought; (4) be served and filed with any brief, affidavit, or other paper filed in support of the motion; and (5) in civil cases, except for motions for rehearing and en banc reconsideration, contain or be accompanied by a certificate stating that the filing party conferred, or made a reasonable attempt to confer, with all other parties about the merits of the motion and whether those parties oppose the motion. Tex. R. App. P. 10.1(a). A motion need not be verified unless it depends on facts requiring proof, in which case the motion must be supported by affidavit or other satisfactory evidence. The types of facts requiring proof are those that are: (a) not in the record; (b) not within the court’s knowledge in its official capacity; and (c) not within the personal knowledge of the attorney signing the motion. Tex. R. App. P. 10.2. A party may file a response to a motion at any time before the court rules on the motion or by any deadline set by the court. The court may determine a motion before a response is filed. Tex. R. App. P. 10.1(b).

In addition to the general requirements set forth above, there are additional requirements for particular motions. A motion relating to informalities in the manner of bringing a case into court must be filed within 30 days after the record is filed in the court of appeals. The objection, if waivable, will otherwise be deemed waived. All motions to extend time, except a motion to extend time for filing a notice of appeal, must state: (A) the deadline for filing the item in question; (B) the length of the extension sought; (C) the facts relied on to reasonably explain the need for an extension; and (D) the number of previous extensions granted regarding the item in question. If a party is filing a motion to extend the time for filing a notice of appeal must include, in addition to the deadline for filing the item in question and the facts relied on to reasonably explain the need for an extension: identity of the trial court; the date of the trial court’s judgment or appealable order; and the case number and style of the case in the trial court. Unless all parties agree, or unless sufficient cause is apparent to the court, a motion to postpone argument of a case must be supported by sufficient cause.

A court should not hear or determine a motion until ten days after the motion was filed, unless: (1) the motion is to extend time to file a brief, a petition for review, or a petition for discretionary review; (2) the motion states that the parties have conferred and that no party opposes the motion; or (3) the motion is an emergency. If a motion is determined prematurely, any party adversely affected may request the court to reconsider its order. Tex. R. App. P. 10.3.

E. Briefing.

  1. Briefing requisites.
    The specific contents of appellate briefs are set forth in Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 38. Because briefs are meant to acquaint the court with the issues in a case and to present argument that will enable the court to decide the case, substantial compliance with this rule is sufficient. However, if the court determines that this rule has been flagrantly violated, it may require a brief to be amended, supplemented, or redrawn. If another brief that does not comply with this rule is filed, the court may strike the brief, prohibit the party from filing another, and proceed as if the party had failed to file a brief. Additionally, if the court determines, either before or after submission, that the case has not been properly presented in the briefs, or that the law and authorities have not been properly cited in the briefs, the court may postpone submission, require additional briefing, and make any other order necessary for a satisfactory submission of the case. Tex. R. App. P. 38.9. A more thorough discussion of the specific contents and electronic filing requirements can be found in Effective Advocacy, an article presented contemporaneously with this article at the 2016 42nd Annual Advanced Family Law Course.
  2. Filing deadlines.
    Except in the case of a habeas corpus or bond appeal, an appellant must file a brief within 30 days—20 days in an accelerated appeal—after the later of: (1) the date the clerk’s record was filed; or (2) the date the reporter’s record was filed. The appellee’s brief must be filed within 30 days—20 days in an accelerated appeal—after the date the appellant’s brief was filed. In a civil case, if the appellant has not filed a brief as provided in this rule, an appellee may file a brief within 30 days—20 days in an accelerated appeal—after the date the appellant’s brief was due. A reply brief, if any, must be filed within 20 days after the date the appellee’s brief was filed. On motion complying with Rule 10.5(b), the appellate court may extend the time for filing a brief and may postpone submission of the case. A motion to extend the time to file a brief may be filed before or after the date a brief is due. The court may also, in the interests of justice, shorten the time for filing briefs and for submission of the case. Tex. R. App. P. 38.6. A brief may be amended or supplemented whenever justice requires, on whatever reasonable terms the court may prescribe. Tex. R. App. P. 38.7.

F. Oral Argument; Decision without Oral Argument.

A party desiring oral argument must note that request on the front cover of the party’s brief. A party’s failure to request oral argument waives the party’s right to argue. But even if a party has waived oral argument, the court may direct the party to appear and argue. Tex. R. App. P. 39.7. A party who has filed a brief and who has timely requested oral argument may argue the case to the court unless the court, after examining the briefs, decides that oral argument is unnecessary for any of the following reasons: (a) the appeal is frivolous; (b) the dispositive issue or issues have been authoritatively decided; (c) the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record; or (d) the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Tex. R. App. P. 39.1. If the court of appeals grants oral argument, oral argument should emphasize and clarify the written arguments in the briefs. Counsel should not merely read from prepared text. Counsel should assume that all members of the court have read the briefs before oral argument and counsel should be prepared to respond to questions. A party should not refer to or comment on matters not involved in or pertaining to what is in the record. Tex. R. App. P. 39.2. The court will set the time that will be allowed for argument. Counsel must complete argument in the time allotted and may continue after the expiration of the allotted time only with permission of the court. Counsel is not required to use all the allotted time. The appellant must be allowed to conclude the argument. Tex. R. App. P. 39.3.

G. Opinions.

The court of appeals must hand down a written opinion that is as brief as practicable but that addresses every issue raised and necessary to final disposition of the appeal. Tex. R. App. P. 47.1. Each opinion of the court must be designated either an “Opinion” or a “Memorandum Opinion.” A majority of the justices who participate in considering the case must determine whether the opinion will be signed by a justice or will be per curiam and whether it will be designated an opinion or memorandum opinion. The names of the participating justices must be noted on all written opinions or orders of the court or a panel of the court. Opinions and memorandum opinions in civil cases issued on or after January 1, 2003 shall not be designated “do not publish.” Tex. R. App. P. 47.2(a), (c). All opinions of the courts of appeals are open to the public and must be made available to public reporting services, print or electronic. Tex. R. App. P. 47.3.

If the issues are settled, the court should write a brief memorandum opinion no longer than necessary to advise the parties of the court’s decision and the basic reasons for it. An opinion may not be designated a memorandum opinion if the author of a concurrence or dissent opposes that designation. An opinion must be designated a memorandum opinion unless it does any of the following: (a) establishes a new rule of law, alters or modifies an existing rule, or applies an existing rule to a novel fact situation likely to recur in future cases; (b) involves issues of constitutional law or other legal issues important to the jurisprudence of Texas; (c) criticizes existing law; or (d) resolves an apparent conflict of authority. Tex. R. App. P. 47.4. Opinions and memorandum opinions designated “do not publish” under these rules by the courts of appeals prior to January 1, 2003 have no precedential value but may be cited with the notation, “(not designated for publication).” If an opinion or memorandum opinion issued on or after January 1, 2003 is erroneously designated “do not publish,” the erroneous designation will not affect the precedential value of the decision. Tex. R. App. P. 47.7(b).

H. Judgment.

The court of appeals may: (a) affirm the trial court’s judgment in whole or in part; (b) modify the trial court’s judgment and affirm it as modified; (c) reverse the trial court’s judgment in whole or in part and render the judgment that the trial court should have rendered; (d) reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the case for further proceedings; (e) vacate the trial court’s judgment and dismiss the case; or (f) dismiss the appeal. Tex. R. App. P. 43.2. When reversing a trial court’s judgment, the court must render the judgment that the trial court should have rendered, except when: (a) a remand is necessary for further proceedings; or (b) the interests of justice require a remand for another trial. Tex. R. App. P. 43.3

In a civil case, the court of appeals’ judgment should award to the prevailing party the appellate costs—including preparation costs for the clerk’s record and the reporter’s record—that were incurred by that party. But the court of appeals may tax costs otherwise as required by law or for good cause. Tex. R. App. P. 43.4. When a court of appeals affirms the trial court judgment, or modifies that judgment and renders judgment against the appellant, the court of appeals must render judgment against the sureties on the appellant’s supersedeas bond, if any, for the performance of the judgment and for any costs taxed against the appellant. Tex. R. App. P. 43.5.

I. Mandate.

A mandate formally commands a lower court to obey a higher court’s judgment. See Tex. R. App. P. 51.1(b). “Upon receipt of the mandate, the trial court has no discretion to review, interpret, or enforce the mandate.” In re Elite Door & Trim, Inc., 362 S.W.3d 199, 200–01 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2012, orig. proceeding); see also Tex. Parks & Wildlife Dep’t v. Dearing, 240 S.W.3d 330, 347 (Tex. App.—Austin 2007, pet. denied) (mandate is formal command requiring lower court to comply with appellate court judgment). On remand, the trial court’s jurisdiction is limited to the issues specified in the mandate and the scope of the mandate is determined by referring to both the court of appeals’s opinion and the mandate itself. See Cessna Aircraft Co. v. Aircraft Network, LLC, 345 S.W.3d 139, 144 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2011, no pet.). When the trial court fails to follow the court of appeals’s mandate, either a writ of prohibition or a writ of mandamus is appropriate to ensure compliance with the prior judgment. See Lee v. Downey, 842 S.W.2d 646, 648 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding); see also In re Colum- Practice Before the Courts of Appeal Chapter 46 5 bia Med. Ctr. of Las Colinas, 306 S.W.3d 246, 247–48 (Tex. 2010) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam).

Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 18, the clerk of the appellate court that rendered the judgment must issue a mandate in accordance with the judgment and send it to the clerk of the court to which it is directed and to all parties to the proceeding ten days after the time has expired (1) for filing a motion to extend time to file a petition for review or a petition for discretionary review if: (A) no timely petition for review or petition for discretionary review has been filed; (B) no timely filed motion to extend time to file a petition for review or petition for discretionary review is pending; and (C) in a criminal case, the Court of Criminal Appeals has not granted review on its own initiative or (2) for filing a motion to extend time to file a motion for rehearing of a denial, refusal, or dismissal of a petition for review, or a refusal or dismissal of a petition for discretionary review, if no timely filed motion for rehearing or motion to extend time is pending. The mandate may be issued earlier if the parties so agree, or for good cause on the motion of a party.

When the trial court clerk receives the mandate, the appellate court’s judgment must be enforced. The trial court need not make any further order in the case, and the appellate court’s judgment may be enforced as in other cases, when the appellate judgment: (1) affirms the trial court’s judgment; (2) modifies the trial court’s judgment and, as so modified, affirms that judgment; or (3) renders the judgment the trial court should have rendered. Tex. R. App. P. 51.

III. FIRST COURT OF APPEALS (HOUSTON).

A. Overview.

The Court of Civil Appeals for the First Supreme Judicial District of Texas opened its first term on Monday, October 3, 1892. The court was then located in Galveston and heard appeals from 57 counties. The court issued its first three published opinions just nine days later on October 11, 1892. The court’s home from 1892 to 1957 was the renovated 1878 Galveston County Jail. In 1957, the court moved from Galveston to Houston.

Today the court’s name is the Court of Appeals for the First Court of Appeals District of Texas. It serves the following ten counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller, and Washington. The court has a chief justice, eight justices, and a clerk. The justices are elected for six-year terms. The justices are assisted by career staff attorneys and first-year lawyers who work for one year as law clerks. The justices appoint the clerk of the court for a four-year term. The clerk is assisted by deputy clerks and administrative personnel. Deputies from the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office provide security and serve as bailiffs.

Throughout its history, the First Court has been the “first” in Texas in many areas. The court has the honor of having the first African-American appellate judge (Hon. Henry E. Doyle), the first elected female appellate judge (Hon. D. Camille Hutson-Dunn); the first female chief justice (Hon. Alice Oliver-Parrott); the first female African-American appellate judge (Hon. Gaynelle Griffin Jones), the first African-American appellate clerk (Hon. Margie Thompson), and the first all-female panel of regularly sitting judges (Hon. Alice Oliver-Parrott, Hon. Margaret Garner Mirabal, and Hon. Michol O’Connor).

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/1stcoa

B. Local rules and internal operating procedure.

The First Court has local rules, which address the assignment of cases between the First Court and Fourteenth Court. Since the First Court and the Fourteenth Court serve the same counties, the assignment of appeals to those courts is generally done so on a rotating basis.

In regards to original proceedings, during the first six months of a calendar year, relators must first present any original proceeding to the clerk of the First Court of Appeals. During the last six months of a calendar year, relators must first present any original proceeding to the clerk of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals. At the time an original proceeding is filed in either the First or Fourteenth Court of Appeals, the relator must file a notice indicating whether any related appeal or original proceeding has been previously filed in either the First or Fourteenth Court of Appeals. If any related appeal or original proceeding has been previously filed in or assigned to either the First or Fourteenth Court of Appeals, the clerk of the appellate court receiving the original proceeding must assign it to the court of appeals in which the related appeal or original proceeding was previously filed. If related appeals or original proceedings have been filed in both the First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals, the clerk of the appellate court receiving the original proceeding must assign it to the court of appeals in which the most recent related appeal or original proceeding was previously filed or assigned. These courts have several related forms that need to be completed if related appeals or original proceedings are an issue and can be found on their respective websites.

The First Court also has internal operating procedures, which address e-filing, records, motions, briefs, case assignment, oral argument, voting, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology, appellate mediation, and fees.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The First Court has specific provisions for parties wanting to participate in alternative dispute resolution. To participate, a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the docketing statement. If the court refers the parties to mediation, it will notify the parties by order. If the case is not referred to mediation, the case continues along the normal appellate track. Any party my file a written objection to the alternative dispute resolution referral within ten days of the order. If the court finds a reasonable basis for the objection, it will sustain the objection and withdraw the mediation order.

The parties must agree on a qualified mediator and agree on a reasonable fee for the mediator’s services. The court does not recommend mediators. Not later than fifteen days from the date that the order is issued, the parties shall file with the Clerk of the Court a completed “Parties’ Notification to Court of Mediator.” The parties should provide the mediator with a completed “Notification of Mediator” and the “Appointment and Fee Report—Mediation” form. Mediation shall be conducted within 45 days of entry of the order of referral. The court may extend or change this time period at the request of a party, so long as the change does not delay administration of the court.

No later than two days from the conclusion of the mediation, the parties and the mediator shall advise the Clerk of the Court in writing whether the parties did or did not settle the underlying dispute, and the mediator shall file with the Clerk a completed “Appointment and Fee Report—Mediation” form. Upon settlement, the parties must file a dispositive motion within ten days of the date mediation successfully concludes. Nothing in this procedure modifies the timetables in the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure regarding the appellate record and briefs.

D. Oral argument.

The First Court allows a total of 30 minutes for oral argument. Each party is granted 15 minutes, and the appellant may reserve some of that time for rebuttal.

IV. SECOND COURT OF APPEALS (FORT WORTH)

A. Overview.

Originally, the Second Court was one of a handful of appellate courts created by the Texas Legislature in 1891 to help handle the increasing case load of the court system. Texas voters had to approve a change in the state constitution to allow the creation of three intermediate appellate courts: Galveston, Fort Worth and Austin. See Tex. Const. art. V § 6 (amended 1978, 1980, 1985. Original text found in Resolutions, 22nd Leg., S.J.R. No. 16, 1891.). The Galveston Court was numbered as “1”, Fort Worth as “2” and Austin as “3.” At that time, the three judges of the Fort Worth Court heard civil appeals from one-hundred eighteen counties, covering approximately the northern two-thirds of the state, from the Sabine river and the Louisiana border west to the New Mexico line. Over the years as the state’s population has grown, more appellate courts were created and the court’s physical area of jurisdiction changed dramatically. Today, the Second District Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdiction over appeals arising from district and county courts in twelve counties: Archer, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Hood, Jack, Montague, Parker, Tarrant, Wichita, Wise and Young.

The court was initially housed on the second floor of the Powell Building at 2nd and Main Streets in Fort Worth. The detailed description of the furnishings from a period newspaper article includes the facts that the floors were covered with cocoa matting, and each room was provided with a fireplace, electric lights and steam heat. The judges’ chambers included “cabinet desks, easy chairs upholstered in leather, folding beds, ordinary chairs, desk chairs, washstands, etc.” The Fort Worth Gazette, October 3, 1892, p. 8. When the present Tarrant County Courthouse was completed in 1895, the court was the first tenant to move in on July 1, 1895. See Tarrant County Commissioners’ Court Minute Book 11, p. 11.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/2ndcoa

B. Local rules and internal operating procedures.

The Second Court has local rules, which address briefs, original proceedings, motions, oral argument, fax filing of documents, withdrawal of record on appeal, and protection of parties’ identities in filed documents. The Second Court also has internal operating procedures that address e-filing, motions, the record, briefs, case assignment, oral argument, voting, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology, appellate mediations, fees, e-filing, and some miscellaneous matters.

The Second Court applies stringent rules regarding redaction of sensitive material. In addition to what is required by Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.9 and 9.10, the court also asks that filers redact or use aliases to refer to the names of other parties by whom a minor might be identified, such as family members or foster parents, the name of any person who is the subject of an expunction appeal, and the names of complainants and witnesses in criminal appeals.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The Second Court has specific provisions for parties wanting to participate in alternative dispute resolution. If the court determines that at least one of the parties has indicated an interest in mediation, the court will generally order the parties to mediate unless another party objects. Interested parties must complete the applicable part of the docketing statement. The responsibility to oversee appellate mediation rotates every six weeks among the justices except from late June through August when it rotates weekly. Any contact with the court regarding mediation must be through the clerk’s office. The court allows the parties to select their own mediator. If parties cannot agree on a mediator, either the administrative justice (if the case has not been assigned to a panel) or the justice who is head of the panel selects the mediator. The court maintains a list of local attorneys who have expressed an interest to the court in serving as mediators that the justice may consult.

D. Oral argument.

Unless additional time is granted by the presiding justice of the panel to which the case is assigned, the Second Court allows a total of 35 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 15 minutes, with 5 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 15 minutes.

V. THIRD COURT OF APPEALS (AUSTIN)

A. Overview.

The Third Court of Appeals was created in 1892 by an Act of the 22nd Legislature, 1st C.J., P. 25, ch. 15; Gammel’s Laws of Texas, Vol. 10, Page 389. The court is composed of a Chief Justice and five justices. The Third Court of Appeals serves the Austin, Texas area hearing cases from the following twenty-four counties: Bastrop, Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Coke, Comal, Concho, Fayette, Hays, Irion, Lampasas, Lee, Llano, McCulloch, Milam, Mills, Runnels, San Saba, Scheicher, Sterling, Tom Green, Travis, and Williamson. Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/3rdcoa

B. Local rules and practices.

The Third Court has local rules, which address frivolous appeals in criminal cases. The Third Court also has local practices, which address: (1) general information regarding clerk’s office location and hours, judge’s panels, release of opinions, citation form, court’s library, jurisdiction check; (2) attorneys: appointment, withdrawal, communication, vacation; (3) fees for costs; (4) filing documents; (5) sealed records; (6) perfecting instruments; (7) docketing statements; (8) record on appeal; and (9) motions. Additionally, the Third Court has internal operating procedures, which address e-filing, records, motions, briefs, case assignments, oral argument, voting, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology, appellate mediation, fees, and miscellaneous matters.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The Third Court no longer has a mediation referral program.

D. Oral argument.

The Third Court allows a total of 45 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 20 minutes, with 5 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 20 minutes.

VI. FOURTH COURT OF APPEALS (SAN ANTONIO)

A. Overview.

The Texas Legislature created the court in 1893 out of territory taken from the First and Third Courts of Civil Appeals. Originally the district encompassed forty-seven counties but with the creation of the Thirteenth Court of Appeals it now serves the following thirty-two counties: Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Brooks, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kames, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, La Salle, Mason, Maverick, McMullen, Medina, Menard, Real, Starr, Sutton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala.

The court first met in the Kampmann Building on Main Plaza. The train carrying the trial court records was several days late, delaying the first court session until September 5, 1893. The court did not publish its first decision, rendered September 13, 1893, in Bolton v. City of San Antonio. Instead, the court issued its first published opinion on September 27, 1893, in Frank v. Tatum, 23 S.W. 311 (Tex. Civ. App.—San Antonio 1893, no writ). The court dismissed the appeal because the trial judge’s attempt to finalize the judgment was ineffectual. The court moved to the Bexar County Courthouse when it was finished in 1896.

In 1981, along with the other courts of appeals, the court received criminal jurisdiction, and the number of justices on the court increased from three to seven. At the same time, the court’s name changed from “Court of Civil Appeals for the Fourth Supreme Judicial District” to “Fourth Court of Appeals.” In 1985 the name changed again to “The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Court of Appeals District.” In addition, the court now sits occasionally in constituent counties other than Bexar County, serving an important function by making citizens aware of the court’s important role in their lives.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/4thcoa

B. Local rules and internal operating procedures.

The Fourth Court has local rules, which address scope of the local rules, alternative dispute resolution, papers generally, bankruptcy and stays in civil cases, docketing statements, forms, motions, appellate record, briefs, and oral argument. The Fourth Court also has internal operating procedures, which address applicability, seniority, “by lot,” “Justice” and “Participating Justices”, court records, failure to pay filing fee, monitoring appeals, jurisdiction checks, alternative dispute resolution, submission panels, assignment of cases to panels, assignment of cases to authoring justices, final decision on oral argument, and notice of submission, pre-and post- submission conferences, preparation, circulation, and issuance of opinions, motions for rehearing, en banc consideration or reconsideration, and Parental Notification Act appeals.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The Fourth Court has specific provisions for parties wanting to participate in alternative dispute resolution in addition to the requirement that a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement. Mediation is not available in civil cases involving juveniles. The specific provisions can be found in the court’s internal operating procedures. D. Oral argument. The Fourth Court allows a total of 50 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 20 minutes, with 10 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 20 minutes.

VII. FIFTH COURT OF APPEALS (DALLAS)

A. Overview.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas was formally opened on September 4, 1893. There was a Chief Justice and two Associate Justices until 1978 (85 years) when three additional Justices were authorized. In 1981, criminal jurisdiction and six additional justices were added. At the same time, the court’s name changed from “Court of Civil Appeals for the Fifth Supreme Judicial District” to “Fifth Court of Appeals.” In 1983, an additional justice position was created and the present configuration is twelve Justices and one Chief Justice. This court is the largest appellate court in the State of Texas and serves the following six counties: Collin, Dallas, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, and Rockwall.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/5thcoa

B. Local rules and internal operating procedures.

The Fifth Court has local rules, which address scope of the local rules, change of address and other information, oral argument, and settlement. The Fifth Court also has information for practitioners, which includes information regarding e-filing, sealed or subject to a pending motion to seal, the record, docketing statements, motions, briefs, case assignment, oral argument, voting, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology, appellate mediation, fees, and miscellaneous matters.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The Fifth Court has no specific provisions for parties wanting to participate in alternative dispute resolution, other than a requirement that a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement. The court encourages the parties to choose their own mediator, but will assign mediators based on a roster maintained by the court.

D. Oral argument.

The Fifth Court allows a total of 45 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 20 minutes, with 5 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 20 minutes.

VIII. SIXTH COURT OF APPEALS (TEXARKANA)

A. Overview.

The Sixth Court of Civil Appeals was established by the Texas Legislature in 1907, and began operations in August of that year. The court’s offices were located in the old city hall building until offices were provided in the “new” municipal building. In 1985, the court’s offices were moved to the new Bi-State Justice Building in downtown Texarkana. In its first 23 years, the court disposed of 3,884 cases and ruled on 4,966 motions, and had an average of 170 cases filed per year. The Sixth Court was granted jurisdiction in criminal appeals in 1981, and its name was changed to “Sixth Court of Appeals.” Twenty-three judges have served on the court since its inception. The court serves the following nineteen counties: Bowie, Camp, Cass, Delta, Fanin, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Hopkins, Hunt, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Titus, Upshur, and Wood.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/6thcoa

B. Local rules and internal operating procedures.

The Sixth Court has no local rules per se, but it does post its policy regarding granting extensions of time to file briefs and its internal operating procedures, which address e-filing, the record, docketing statements, motions, briefs, oral argument, voting, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology, appellate mediation, fees, and miscellaneous matters.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The Sixth Court has no specific provisions for parties wanting to participate in alternative dispute resolution, other than a requirement that a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement.

D. Oral argument.

The Sixth Court allows a total of 50 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 20 minutes, with 10 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 20 minutes.

IX. SEVENTH COURT OF APPEALS (AMARILLO)

A. Overview.

The Seventh Court of Civil Appeals was established by the Texas Legislature in 1911. The Seventh Court was granted jurisdiction in criminal appeals in 1981, and its name was changed to “Seventh Court of Appeals.” The court is composed of a Chief Justice and three justices. The court serves the following forty-six counties: Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Dickens, Donley, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hale, Hall, Hansford, Hardeman, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lamb, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Lynn, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Terry, Wheeler, Wilbarger, and Yoakum.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/7thcoa

B. Local rules and internal operating procedures.

The Seventh Court has no local rules, but its internal operating procedures address e-filing, the record, motions, briefs, oral argument, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology, appellate mediation, fees, and miscellaneous matters.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The Seventh Court does not participate in the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement and does not have a structured program for appellate mediation. However, requests for abatement or continuance so mediation can take place are generally granted. D. Oral argument. The Seventh Court allows a total of 45 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 20 minutes, with 5 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 20 minutes.

X. EIGHTH COURT OF APPEALS (EL PASO)

A. Overview.

The Eighth Court of Civil Appeals was created by the legislature in 1911. In 1981, the court was granted jurisdiction in criminal appeals, and its name was changed to “Eighth Court of Appeals.” The court is composed of a Chief Justice and two justices. The court serves the following seventeen counties: Andrews, Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Terrell, Upton, Ward, and Winkler.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/8thcoa

B. Local rules and internal operating procedures.

The Eighth Court has local rules, which address briefs in cross-appeals, request for temporary or emergency relief in original proceedings, and identify of parties, attorneys, and trial judges. The court also posts its policies regarding oral argument and alternative dispute resolution, as well as its internal operating procedures, which address e-filing, records, motions, briefs, case assignment, oral argument, voting, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology, appellate mediation, fees, and miscellaneous matters.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

In addition to the requirement that a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement, on a party’s motion, or on the court’s own initiative after reviewing the docketing statement, the court may refer a civil case to alternative dispute resolution. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 154.001. Any party may file a written objection to the alternative dispute resolution order within ten days of the date of the order. The court will review the objection and make a timely ruling after its receipt. If the court finds a reasonable basis for the objection, it will sustain the objection and withdraw the mediation order. The court does not select the mediator.

D. Oral argument.

The Eighth Court allows a total of 50 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 20 minutes, with 10 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 20 minutes.

XI. NINTH COURT OF APPEALS (BEAUMONT)

A. Overview.

The Ninth Court of Civil Appeals was created by the legislature in 1915. The Ninth Court was granted jurisdiction in criminal appeals in 1981, and its name was changed to “Ninth Court of Appeals.” The court is composed of a Chief Justice and three justices. The court serves the following ten counties: Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto, and Tyler.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/9thcoa

B. Local rules and internal operating procedures.

The Ninth Court has no local rules. However, the court does post a procedure regarding mediation on its website. The court also provides its internal operating procedures addressing the following: e-filing, records, motions, briefs, oral argument, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology, appellate mediation, and fees.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

In addition to completing the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement, this court is currently utilizing a mediation system that involves the referral of certain civil appeals to an alternative dispute resolution process. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 154.001. Under this system, if requested by the parties, or alternatively, if the court determines on its own motion that referral to mediation is appropriate, the court will enter an Order of Referral (1) designating a courtappointed mediator and venue for mediation and (2) directing the parties and their counsel to attend this mediation. Any written objection to the Order of Referral must be eFiled with the court within ten days of its issuance. A copy of the Order of Referral will be transmitted to the court-appointed mediator for the scheduling of the time and date of the mediation. Fees for the mediation are to be agreed upon by the parties and the mediator, and divided and borne equally by the parties unless agreed otherwise. Fees shall be paid by the parties directly to the mediator, and shall be taxed as costs upon approval. When a mediation results in an agreed disposition of the appeal, counsel shall notify the clerk of this court immediately and follow up with an appropriate joint motion.

D. Oral argument.

The Ninth Court allows a total of 40 minutes for oral argument. Both parties are granted 20 minutes, and the appellant may reserve some of that time for rebuttal.

XII. TENTH COURT OF APPEALS (WACO)

A. Overview.

When the McLennan County Courthouse was built in 1901, County Judge J.N. Gallagher (later the first Chief Justice of the Tenth Court of Appeals) foresaw that the Legislature might in the future create a court of civil appeals for central Texas to sit in Waco. Consequently, he caused the fourth floor of the courthouse to be built, but left unoccupied, to later house an appellate court.

In 1923 the Legislature created the Tenth Supreme Judicial District to serve twelve counties in central Texas. The Court of Civil Appeals for the Tenth Supreme Judicial District met for its first regular session in the 74th District Courtroom of the McLennan County Courthouse at 10:00 a.m. on June 30, 1923. The court currently serves the following eighteen counties: Bosque, Brazos, Burleson, Coryell, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Johnson, Leon, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Navarro, Robertson, Somervell, and Walker.

In 1981 the Tenth Court was renamed “Tenth Court of Appeals” and was granted appellate jurisdiction “in all criminal cases except those in which the death penalty has been assessed.” The title of Associate Justices was changed in 1985 to Justices. In 1987 the Legislature changed all references to Supreme Judicial Districts to Courts of Appeals Districts. The Tenth Court of Appeals was granted the authority to sit in any county within the Tenth Court of Appeals District in 1991. The Tenth Court of Appeals hears approximately 400 criminal and civil appeals a year from lower courts in eighteen counties of Texas. The court is composed of a Chief Justice and two Justices

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/10thcoa

B. Local rules.

In addition to specific detailed procedures regarding oral argument, the Tenth Court has local rules, which address the scope of local rules, appearance, ex parte communications, location and business hours, filing fee in civil cases, docket statement, motions, fax filing of documents, alternative dispute resolution, record on appeal, withdrawal of record on appeal, briefs, appendices, appeals in habeas corpus, bail, and extradition proceedings, oral argument, original proceedings, bankruptcy stays in civil cases, captions of special types of cases, and cases on remand. Two of these local rules relate specifically to the captions in family law cases:

  • An appeal from an order or decree under Title 1, Subtitle C, of the Texas Family Code (Dissolution of Marriage) will be captioned “In the Matter of the Marriage of _______ and ________.”
  • An appeal from an order or decree rendered under Title 5 of the Texas Family Code (Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship), other than an order granting the adoption of an adult, will be captioned “In the Interest of [initials of child(ren)], (a) Child(ren).”

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The Tenth Court has no specific provisions for parties wanting to participate in alternative dispute resolution, other than a requirement that a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement. However, the court may also refer a case to mediation on its own motion.

D. Oral argument.

The Tenth Court allows a total of 45 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 20 minutes, with 5 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 20 minutes. The court also adheres to the following detailed procedures:

  1. The Clerk calls the court into session promptly at 9:00 a.m. unless an alternative time has been designated.
  2. The Chief Justice calls the Docket. Generally, causes will be heard in order according to their cause number. As the cause number is announced, the attorneys involved should stand, state their name and which party they represent, and indicate to the court if they are ready to proceed. Failure to respond at Docket call constitutes a waiver of oral argument by that party.
  3. After calling all of the causes to be submitted that day, the Chief Justice will call the individual causes in order. Participants in later proceedings may wait outside the courtroom but must be present when their case is called.
  4. Oral argument is limited to twenty minutes for the appellant’s opening argument, twenty minutes for the appellee’s argument, and five minutes for the appellant’s rebuttal. A timer on the podium indicates the precise time remaining during argument. For twenty-minute arguments, a yellow summation light is displayed when three minutes remain. For fiveminute arguments, the yellow summation light is displayed when one minute remains. When the time expires, a red light is displayed and the argument should end.
  5. Every issue the appellant desires to present to the court during oral argument must be fully presented during appellant’s opening argument. An issue not raised during appellant’s opening argument or addressed in the appellee’s argument may not be raised on rebuttal.
  6. All causes to be argued have been discussed by the court and its legal staff in a presubmission conference. The court is generally familiar with the facts, and Counsel should not dwell unnecessarily on them.
  7. Authorities cited during oral argument that are not contained in the briefs must be submitted to the Clerk and all opposing parties by letter-brief not later than the Friday following oral argument. The opposing party may respond to the new authority in a letterbrief filed by the following Friday.
  8. After the appellant’s rebuttal argument, the cause is officially submitted for decision and the parties are free to leave. Please note, however, that others will be presenting arguments to the court and everyone should exit the courtroom with as little disruption as possible.
  9. After all of the causes have been submitted, the court and its legal staff meet in the courtroom for a post-submission conference. Attorneys, parties, and spectators are asked to leave the courtroom promptly at the conclusion of the Docket.
  10. The court does not allow operation of broadcasting or recording devices in the courtroom during oral argument, i.e., no photographs, video recordings, or audio recordings may be made of oral arguments.
  11. The court asks that all cellular telephones, beepers, and other devices which emit an audio alert signal be turned off or set to a silent mode while in the courtroom.
  12. Unlike many other courtrooms in which the judges enter and exit through a separate doorway, the physical layout of the regular courtroom and the judges’ offices makes it necessary for the judges and the legal staff to pass through the courtroom and among the lawyers and spectators before court and during breaks. So that no appearance of impropriety is created, the judges and legal staff will not engage in conversation with the lawyers or spectators, other than to exchange casual greetings.

XIII. ELEVENTH COURT OF APPEALS (EASTLAND)

A. Overview.

The Eleventh Court of Civil Appeals was created in 1925 by an Act of the 39th Legislature (S.B. 189, Ch. 87, P. 258) as authorized by Article 5, Sections 1 and 6 of the Texas Constitution. The Eleventh Court was granted jurisdiction in criminal appeals in 1981, and its name was changed to “Eleventh Court of Appeals.” The court is composed of a Chief Justice and two Justices. The Eleventh Court of Appeals is located in Eastland, Texas and serves the following twentyeight counties: Baylor, Borden, Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Comanche, Dawson, Eastland, Ector, Erath, Fischer, Gaines, Glassock, Haskell, Howard, Jones, Knox, Martin, Midland, Mitchell, Nolan, Palo Pinto, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Stonewall, Taylor, Throckmorton.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/11thcoa

B. Internal operating procedures.

The Eleventh Court has no local rules. However, the court does post its internal operating procedures, which address motions, briefs, oral arguments, voting, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology used by the court, appellate mediation, fees, and miscellaneous matters.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The Eleventh Court has no specific provisions for parties wanting to participate in alternative dispute resolution, other than a requirement that a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement. The court is looking at procedures used by other intermediate courts to be applied on a case-bycase basis.

D. Oral argument.

The Eleventh Court allows a total of 45 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 20 minutes, with 5 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 20 minutes.

XIV. TWELFTH COURT OF APPEALS (TYLER)

A. Overview.

The Twelfth Court of Civil Appeals was created by the legislature in 1970s. The Twelfth Court was granted jurisdiction in criminal appeals in 1981, and its name was changed to “Twelfth Court of Appeals.” The court is composed of a Chief Justice and two justices. The court serves the following seventeen counties: Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Greg, Henderson, Houston, Nacogdoches, Rains, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Upshur, Van Zandt, and Wood.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/12thcoa

B. Tips and guidelines.

The Twelfth Court has no local rules, but it does have tips and guidelines that address the following: perfection of the appeal, docketing statements, designations of the clerk’s record and reporter’s record, the record, issues presented are alternative to points of error, extension motions, perfecting documents, and mandamus proceedings.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The Twelfth Court has no specific provisions for parties wanting to participate in alternative dispute resolution, other than a requirement that a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement.

D. Oral argument.

The Twelfth Court allows a total of 40 minutes for oral argument. Both parties are granted 20 minutes, and the appellant may reserve some of that time for rebuttal.

XV. THIRTEENTH COURT OF APPEALS (CORPUS CHRISTI)

A. Overview.

The Thirteenth Court of Civil Appeals was created in 1963 by amendment to Article 1817, V.T.C.S., pursuant to authority granted by Article 5, Section 1, Texas Constitution. The Thirteenth Court was granted jurisdiction in criminal appeals in 1981, and its name was changed to “Thirteenth Court of Appeals.” The court is composed of a Chief Justice and five justices. The court serves the following twenty counties: Aransas, Bee, Calhoun, Cameron, De Witt, Goliad, Gonzales, Hidalgo, Jackson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lavaca, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Wharton, Wilacy.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/13thcoa

B. Internal operating procedures.

The Thirteenth Court posts its internal operating procedures in lieu of local rules, which address motions, briefs, case assignment, oral arguments, voting, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology used by the court, appellate mediation, fees, and miscellaneous matters. The court also posts additional information regarding original proceedings and oral argument, as well as a questionnaire to which the justices have responded that provides a lot of useful information.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

In addition to the requirement that a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the uniform docketing statement, the following cases are mediated: (1) cases in which both parties agree to mediate; (2) money judgments up to $50,000 exclusive of costs and interest; (3) family law cases excluding custody disputes, termination of parental rights, and juvenile cases; (4) forfeiture of property cases. Other cases may be referred to mediation at the discretion of the panel justices.

D. Oral argument.

The Thirteenth Court allows a total of 40 minutes for oral argument. Both parties are granted 20 minutes, and the appellant may reserve some of that time for rebuttal. The court routinely hears oral argument on four days each month during the fall and spring, and also hears oral argument on emergency matters during the summer months. The court regularly schedules oral argument in its courtrooms in Edinburg and Corpus Christi, periodically travels to other counties in its district to hear argument, and occasionally travels to other court of appeals districts to hear oral argument in transfer cases. In accordance with Texas Government Code Section 73.003(e), the court may hear oral argument through the use of teleconferencing technology as provided by Texas Government Code Section 22.302. The court makes audio recordings of oral arguments for its own use. A party, member of the press, or other interested person may purchase a copy of the recording from the Clerk. The court does not guarantee the quality of the audio recording.

XVI. FOURTEENTH COURT OF APPEALS (HOUSTON)

A. Overview.

The Fourteenth Court of Appeals was created in 1967. The Fourteenth Court was granted jurisdiction in criminal appeals in 1981, and its name was changed to “Fourteenth Court of Appeals.” The court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight justices. The court serves the same ten counties as the First Court of Appeals: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller, and Washington.

Court’s website: http://www.txcourts.gov/14thcoa

B. Local rules and internal operating procedures.

The Fourteenth Court has local rules which address the assignment of cases between the First Court and Fourteenth Court. Since the First Court and the Fourteenth Court serve the same counties, the assignment of appeals to those courts is generally done so on a rotating basis.

In regards to original proceedings, during the first six months of a calendar year, relators must first present any original proceeding to the clerk of the First Court of Appeals. During the last six months of a calendar year, relators must first present any original proceeding to the clerk of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals. At the time an original proceeding is filed in either the First or Fourteenth Court of Appeals, the relator must file a notice indicating whether any related appeal or original proceeding has been previously filed in either the First or Fourteenth Court of Appeals. If any related appeal or original proceeding has been previously filed in or assigned to either the First or Fourteenth Court of Appeals, the clerk of the appellate court receiving the original proceeding must assign it to the court of appeals in which the related appeal or original proceeding was previously filed. If related appeals or original proceedings have been filed in both the First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals, the clerk of the appellate court receiving the original proceeding must assign it to the court of appeals in which the most recent related appeal or original proceeding was previously filed or assigned. These two courts have several related forms that need to be completed if related appeals or original proceedings are an issue and can be found on their respective websites.

In addition to its local rules regarding assignment of cases between the First and Fourteenth Courts, the Fourteenth Court also has internal operating procedures, which address the following: e-filing, records, motions, briefs, case assignment, oral arguments, voting, opinions, motions for rehearing, original proceedings, technology used by the court, appellate mediation, fees, and miscellaneous matters.

C. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

To participate in alternative dispute resolution in the Fourteenth Court, a party needs to fill out the mediation section of the docketing statement. If the court refers the parties to mediation, it will notify the parties by order. If the case is not referred to mediation, the case continues along the normal appellate track. Any party my file a written objection to the alternative dispute resolution referral within ten days of the order. If the court finds a reasonable basis for the objection, it will sustain the objection and withdraw the mediation order.

The parties must agree on a qualified mediator and agree on a reasonable fee for the mediator’s services. The court does not recommend mediators. Not later than fifteen days from the date that the order is issued, the parties shall file with the Clerk of the Court a completed “Parties’ Notification to Court of Mediator.” The parties should provide the mediator with a completed “Notification of Mediator” and the “Appointment and Fee Report—Mediation” form. Mediation shall be conducted within forty-five days of entry of the order of referral. The court may extend or change this time period at the request of a party, so long as the change does not delay administration of the court.

No later than two days from the conclusion of the mediation, the parties and the mediator shall advise the Clerk of the Court in writing whether the parties did or did not settle the underlying dispute, and the mediator shall file with the Clerk a completed “Appointment and Fee Report—Mediation” form. Upon settlement, the parties must file a dispositive motion within ten days after the date mediation successfully concludes. Nothing in this procedure modifies the timetables in the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure regarding the appellate record and briefs.

D. Oral argument.

The Fourteenth Court allows a total of 35 minutes for oral argument. The appellant is granted 10 minutes, with 5 minutes for rebuttal. Appellee is granted 15 minutes

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