Court of Criminal Appeals

Oral Argument Instructions 

To All Attorneys Arguing Before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

A growing number of attorneys now practicing before the Court are new to its practice and therefore unaware of its procedures. We have, from time to time, reminded the bar about the particulars of arguing before this Court. The following are a few suggestions:

  1. Obtain a copy of the Submission List from the Clerk's Office. This will give you some idea as to when to expect to argue.

  2. If you wish to divide the time allotted for argument, make these arrangements before the Court takes the bench. Such arrangements may be made with the timekeeper at the bailiff's desk located at the front of the courtroom. Inform the Court of such arrangements at the outset of your argument.

    Allocation of time is especially important for those cases which have been consolidated for argument as the sum total of time allotted to such arguments remains at twenty (20) minutes.

  3. When your case is called by the Presiding Judge, move to the appropriate counsel table, appellant on the left and the State on the right, as you face the bench. Move to the podium when presentation of your portion of the case is called by the Presiding Judge. Please remind the Court of your name and the county from which the case arose.

  4. Limit the presentation of your case to the legal issues involved and do not embark on a jury argument. Remain behind the podium at all times during the presentation of your case.

  5. There are two lights on the podium: a yellow light and a red light. In all situations, unless you give the timekeeper instructions to the contrary regarding the division of time, when there is one (1) minute remaining in the time allotted for presentation of your case, the yellow light will come on and in most instances remain on throughout the minute. When time for presentation of your case has expired, the yellow light will be extinguished and the red light will come on. Please conclude your argument before the red light comes on. Do not continue arguing once the red light is on. You may remain to answer questions propounded by the Court. Once you have finished presenting your case and/or answering questions, vacate the podium area as quickly as possible.

  6. Please note that your presentation of the case is not the first exposure the Judges have had to the case. Please, in the course of presenting your case, include discussion of any new cases not cited in your brief which might have an effect on your case. In addition, please submit a supplemental list of authorities containing any citations not presented in your brief to the Clerk prior to argument.

Copies of these instructions are available upon request from the Clerk's Office, Room 106, Supreme Court Building or the Court's website.