The Texas Supreme Court has issued final approval of amended rules establishing how indigent people in Texas court cases may proceed without paying court costs.
The Court approved changes May 16, subject to public comments, to Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 145 and 502.3 and associated appellate rules. The final order reflects submitted comments. These amendments are effective Thursday, September 1, and apply to any pending challenge to a claim that a party in a case cannot afford court costs.
The amendments center on civil procedure Rule 145, which determines how court costs may be waived for indigent litigants. Under Rule 145, as amended, a statement that a party cannot afford court costs either must be sworn or signed under threatened perjury. Rule 145 previously required a party’s sworn affidavit that he or she could not afford court costs.
The final Rule 145 makes organizational changes to the amended rule as originally adopted and changes the notice time to 10 days from 21 days that the indigent party must get of a hearing on a challenge to the indigence statement. That notice must either be written and formally served according to civil procedure Rule 21a or be given in open court. In the hearing the indigent party must prove an inability to afford court costs.
The Court approved changes reflecting the required statement instead of sworn affidavit to Rules 126 (fee to serve process in a county other than the county in which the suit was filed); 501.2 (process-service fees); 502.4 (allowing a statement by which a plaintiff attests he or she cannot afford courts costs, establishing a form court clerks must make available and outlining how such statements may be contested if a legal-aid attorney has not certified representation of a party); 502.6 (other claims associated with a suit); 504.1 (jury-trial demand); 506.1 (procedures for appeal); 506.4 (procedures for certiorari writs); and 510.7 and 510.9 (cases and appeals involving eviction trials).
Without changes, the Court also finally approved previously approved amendments to Texas appellate rules 20.1 (costs in civil appeals); 25.1 (notices of civil appeal provisions); 32.1 (requirements in appellate-docketing statements pertinent to an appeal involving a case in which an indigence statement has been filed); and 43.4 (judgment for costs on appeal).
Contact: Osler McCarthy, staff attorney/public information 512.463.1441 or email