February 2014 Dicta
by Judge Martin Hoffman, 68th Judicial District Court

For the first time in over ten years, the Dallas County Local Rules have been amended. The Dallas Civil District Judges felt that a thorough and inclusive process was important for amending these rules. The project was coordinated by District Judge Martin Hoffman and assisted by Quentin Brogdon of the Law Offices of Frank L. Branson and Monica Latin of Carrington Coleman. Numerous groups were invited to participate including the Dallas Bar, Dallas Trial Lawyers Association, DAYL, J.L. Turner, DHBA, DAABA, representatives from the mediator community and many others. After numerous public meetings, dozens of proposed rules changes and extensive input by the judiciary, the local judges unanimously submitted the proposed amendments to Texas Supreme Court. Every Civil District Judge and County Court at Law judge eventually signed off on these amendments. The following are the most substantive amendments to the local rules:

  • Rule 1.03 was amended to clarify that an ancillary proceeding can be transferred by an individual Court to another judge in addition to being assigned by the District or County Clerk.
  • Rule 1.07 was amended to clarify that the cases subject to transfer pursuant to 1.06 rule provides a nonexclusive list of cases subject to transfer. 
  • Rule 1.07(e) was added to establish that applications for approval of a transfer of structured settlement payment rights should be transferred to the court that approved the establishment of the underlying annuity. 
  • Rule 2.04 was extensively amended to reflect changes associated with the e-filing of documents. The rules dictate that page number shall be consecutively numbered and “should continue in sequential order through the last page of any attachments or exhibits (ie. Should not re-start with each succeeding document). Any reference to an attachment shall include the sequential page number where the reference can be found.” 
  • Rule 2.06 was amended to clarify that even if a motion to approve a minor settlement is agreed to by the party, the court may still require a hearing on that type of motion. 
  • Rule 2.07(d) was amended to exclude additional types of motions from the certificate of conference requirement: motions to confirm arbitration awards, motions to exclude expert testimony, pleas to the jurisdiction, motions to designate responsible third parties, and motions to strike designations of responsible third parties. 
  • Rule 2.09 now requires that all motions, briefs, responses and replies must be filed and served at least three working days before the scheduled hearing, except in an emergency. 
  • Rule 2.11 was completely substituted. The original rule 2.11 was identical to Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 191.1 and was, therefore, eliminated from the local rules. The new rule 2.11 clarifies that parties must provide notice of hearing within one day of obtaining a setting from the clerk. 
  • Rule 4.01 now requires counsel to provide a preferred email address in addition to the information required by the new TRCP 57, and to notify the District Clerk with any changes to that information. 
  • Rule 5.04 was changed to eliminate the requirement specific to County Courts at Law that motions for continuances must give provide good cause even if agreed 

The Texas Supreme Court approved these amendments on January 15, 2014 and they are effective immediately.