Texas Supreme Court advisory

Contact: Osler McCarthy, staff attorney for public information
512.463.1441 or click for email

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Texas Bar Foundation-financed project includes rules approved by Court since 1984

Once buried in files available only at the Texas Supreme Court, local rules approved for Texas courts are now available by computer, the result of a year-and-a-half-long project financed by the Texas Bar Foundation.

Supreme Court administrative orders from 1990 through 2001 also have been archived and posted on the Court’s web site.

“The creation of a one-stop, completely free repository of Court-approved local rules and administrative orders not only saves everyone a great deal of time,” Court archivist Tiffany Shropshire said, “but it also enhances public access to records while simultaneously preserving them.”

Update 08/17/2017: The Texas Judicial Branch Rules & Standards page is now the starting point for all local rules searches.

Click here for administrative orders.

Before this initiative, local rules governing lower courts might be available on that court’s own web site, but no central, free repository existed for all local rules in the state. Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 3a requires all courts to submit local rules to the Texas Supreme Court for approval, but verifying whether the given rules were approved would require time to inspect Supreme Court records.


The new local rules web site allows quick and accurate verification of local rules of the courts of any county, court of appeals or administrative judicial region in the state and provides a complete history of local rules for that court since Rule 3a was approved in 1984.

The bar foundation provided a $7,500 grant in June 2009 to convert to digital format local rules and more than a decade of administrative orders predating those first posted online in 2002. In the end, Shropshire said, the cost was $2,760 to scan and archive 15 boxes of documents.

In 2002 the Supreme Court began posting copies of all administrative orders – including local-rules approval orders – on its web site. Those postings did not include administrative orders approved before 2002. Before 1990 administrative orders were entered in oversized bound volumes that would be too expensive to copy and scan.

The objective of the Texas Bar Foundation grant was to post all orders dating to 1990 in the searchable PDF/A format that bolsters long-term preservation by assuring the self-contained digital document will be read according to its original characteristics without need for proprietary software.

“In this way,” Shropshire said, “this intrinsically valuable information is available in an archival digital format to citizens, historians, attorneys and judges for generations to come.”

Original paper records also have been arranged and processed for long-term preservation, she said.