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Local Rules

Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

Learn about local court rules and other practice-related requirements to help you best prepare a case in your specific court.

Texas courts often have their own rules that establish their procedures, decorum, and administration. The rules often vary from court to court. Learn about local rules, how they relate to state rules of procedure, and why you need to know both as you prepare your case. 

What are local rules?

Local rules lay out the courts’ administrative procedures for local practice. Local rules let the courts manage things like case scheduling, admission of evidence, remote hearing procedures, motions, and orders. 

To be binding, local rules must be published on the Office of Court Administration’s Local Rules Database

Local rules cannot conflict with or override state law, federal law, or rules adopted by the Supreme Court of Texas. 

What are standing orders?

Standing orders are temporary court orders that control the parties’ conduct before trial. Standing orders are automatic: They are not requested by either party. The purpose of a standing order is to require a party to act, or not act, in a certain way to keep things running normally and as smoothly as possible until a judge can hear the issues in the case. 

For example, many courts released standing orders on the requirements of virtual hearings, including how to behave behind the camera and how to present evidence via a court’s chosen videoconferencing platform. 

If a standing order applies in your case, print it out, and attach it to your first pleading when you file your suit.  

Standing orders are included in the Texas Local Rules search engine. Confirm with your court that you are not missing any standing orders. 

To learn more, read Standing Orders

What is the difference between local rules and standing orders?

Local rules establish local procedures for a court or group of courts. Local rules fall within the scope of the Administrative Judicial Region’s local rules and requirements. 

Standing orders, on the other hand, are much more specific and can apply on a court-by-court basis or based on a particular type of case, such as all family law cases or all probate cases.  

For example, all cases in Bexar County Courts at Law will fall under the local rules of the 4th Administrative Judicial Region as well as the local rules of the Bexar County Courts at Law

However, if you are in Bexar County Court at Law No. 7, their Standing Order on Trial Procedures will apply together with the local rules above. But, If you are in a Bexar county court other than County Court at Law No. 7, this standing order will not apply, still the other local rules will. 

Always confirm whether any standing orders apply in your court for your case. See our article on Standing Orders for more information.  

How do I find local rules for a particular court?

As of January 1, 2023, Texas courts must publish their local rules, forms, and standing orders to the Office of Court Administration’s Public Information System.  

Alternatively, you can find local rules for a particular county or court by searching or navigating for “local rules” on the county or court’s website. The Texas Association of Counties has a webpage listing county websites. You can find a link to your county’s website and then find its local rules on the website. TexasLawHelp has also compiled information about many Texas counties’ local rules and procedures at Virtual Court: County-by-County

If you have difficulty finding your county or court’s local rules, contact the district clerk, county clerk, or city court for help . 

Why is it important to follow local rules?

Understanding the local rules in your court will help you conduct your case without delay. 

Each court has different docket volumes and structures. Local rules give parties an understanding of what is necessary to complete their case based on their court’s structure.  

If you fail to follow the local rules in your court, you may be reprimanded, fined, or even jailed for contempt of court.  

What do local rules usually cover?

Local rules usually cover the following: 

  • Pre-trial procedures, such as service of process and communications;  

  • Case filing, assignment, and transfer; document submission (motions and discovery);  

  • Specific trial procedures; and  

  • Responsibilities for attorneys as well as pro se litigants. 

Note: Some local rules cover procedures for requesting and appointing a language interpreter. If your local rules do not cover these procedures, contact your court. See The Right to a Language Interpreter

Where can I see my court’s local rules being applied?

You should watch a hearing in your specific court. Many courts provide a video stream of their hearings for the public. See the Office of Court Administration’s Texas Court Live Streams to find your court’s live stream. If no live stream is available, go to your courtroom to observe a hearing in person. Seeing a hearing live will give you insight into how you should address the court, what you should wear, and what the general hearing will look like from a procedural standpoint. Contact your court coordinator with questions about scheduling hearings or the best times to observe a hearing before your own hearing.  

Are there any other rules I need to be aware of?

Yes. To effectively prepare your case, you will not only need to understand your court’s local rules and standing orders, but you will also need to understand the substantive and procedural laws that apply in all Texas state courts.  

Understanding which laws, rules, and procedures you must research will help you best prepare your case. Carefully review the article Learning the Law You Need for help preparing your research.  

Texas Rules of Civil Procedure

The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure regulate the judicial procedures for every civil case in Texas state courts.  

On the other hand, local rules only govern the judicial practice for a local court or group of courts as long as they are not inconsistent with the statewide rules.  

Like local rules, you can view Texas Rules of Civil Procedure as a “how to” guide for filing and processing a claim through Texas’s civil court system. Failure to follow the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure can make it difficult for judges and juries to evaluate a case fairly and effectively. Understanding these rules will prevent court delays, help you avoid penalties, and reduce the risk of the case being dismissed.   

See Civil Litigation in Texas: The Basics for help understanding basic case procedure. 

For help understanding civil procedure and tips on researching your case, read Learning the Law You Need.  

Texas Rules of Evidence

The Texas Rules of Evidence govern the admissibility of evidence, including witness testimony.  

The Texas Rules of Evidence govern how to submit evidence and what evidence to submit for a court proceeding. Local rules procedurally govern how cases should flow through a specific court or group of courts.  

Review the guide on the Rules of Evidence and Objections to better understand the Texas Rules of Evidence and its applications. 

Generally, the rules of evidence do not apply to Justice Courts, which have jurisdiction over minor civil matters and minor criminal offenses. See Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 500.3(e).  

Should I get a lawyer to help?

Local rules are a crucial piece to trying your case successfully. Understanding these rules and preparing the law you need to argue your case will be central in asserting or defending your rights in court.  

Review the local rules and standing orders in your court, and read Learning the Law You Need to help you prepare your case. 

If you feel overwhelmed by all the procedural rules for civil litigation, consider consulting a local attorney who already knows where to find the rules, what rules apply, and how to apply them.  

 If you need help finding a lawyer, you can:  

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