Texas Supreme Court advisory

Contact: Jody Hughes, rules attorney
512.463.1353 or click for email

December 12, 2007

The Texas Supreme Court has adopted statewide rules governing the electronic filing and service of documents in participating justice-of-the-peace courts, effective January 1.

The rules apply to all justice courts and county small claims courts statewide that elect to participate in electronic filing through TexasOnline, the state’s Internet portal site for government information and transactions.

These JP e-filing rules are similar to the template e-filing model rules for district and county courts that adopt local electronic-filing rules under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 3a, although with several differences. One significant difference is that the JP rules do not add additional time for a response to a pleading filed by computer. The district/county court rules template adds three days, following TRCP 21a’s provision for service by facsimile.

And because most justice courts are not authorized to adopt local rules, electronic filing is on an “opt-in” basis under a single set of statewide rules, in contrast to local rules adoption for county and district courts under TRCP 3a.

JP e-filing rules were originally published in the October 2007 Texas Bar Journal with public comments invited through November 30. Of few public comments, one led to a change reflecting revision to Texas Government Code section 27.031(c). That section now provides that a corporation need not be represented by an attorney in justice court.

Under the JP rules adopted by the Court, Rule 2.2 now reads (with changes from the original published version underlined): “The term “attorney” shall apply to a self-represented party, such as a person representing himself or herself in a justice of the peace court, or a corporate representative who is not a licensed attorney appearing on behalf of a corporation either in small claims court as authorized by Texas Government Code §28.003(e) or in justice court as authorized by Texas Government Code §27.031(c).

Copies of the December 10 final adoption order and the September 20 order publishing the rules for public comment are available online.

The final rules will also be published in the Texas Register and in the Texas Bar Journal.

Questions or comments about these rules may be directed to Jody Hughes, the Court’s rules attorney.