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Asking to Appear in Court by Video or Phone

Virtual Court: Procedure

You can ask the court to appear by videoconference (like Zoom) or telephone and to allow "unsworn declarations" as evidence.
Overview

Guide Overview

This guide includes instructions and forms for asking the court to let you participate by Zoom, telephone, etc.

TexasLawHelp is working to provide you with accurate information on virtual court procedures and platforms. To help improve upon the information that is available, please leave any comments or recommendations in this Virtual Court Content Survey

Research Tips

Read Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 21d and 500.10, available from the Texas Judicial Branch's website.

Instructions & Forms

Overview

After the covid pandemic began, the Texas Supreme Court granted broader leeway to courts to change their procedures to minimize the spread of the virus.

Participating in court by video or telephone is allowed under Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 21d and 500.10, which govern virtual and remote appearances.

For more information, read Virtual Court andTelephonic Court.

With these forms, you can ask the court to appear by videoconference (like Zoom) or telephone; to allow "unsworn declarations" as evidence, or hold court at an alternative site.

Checklist Steps

You might not even have to file a motion to appear remotely.

Start by finding out what your court is doing. Contact the court coordinator. You can usually reach the court coordinator by calling the office of the judge in the court where your case is pending. To find a list of judges' offices, check the Judicial Directory on the website of the Office of Court Administration.

Important: Court coordinators and clerks cannot give you legal advice. Please read What Court Staff Can and Cannot Do.

The Motion to Appear Remotely tells the judge you want to use procedures for your court appearance such as videoconference (like Zoom) or telephone.

Fill it out completely in blue or black ink and sign it. You must include your name and contact information and the name and contact information for the other people who are involved.

When courts are hearing matters by videoconference and telephone, it is extremely important that the contact information is up-to-date so that everyone affected by your motion knows about the next steps.

Fill out the top of the form (the part that asks for the cause number; the names of the parties; the court; the court number; and the county) completely in blue or black ink (except for the judge’s signature) and sign it. 

Read through carefully and check the boxes and file in the blanks that apply to your situation, such as:

  • whether everyone agrees to file this motion
  • whether you are asking for remote participation in court proceedings
  • if you are asking the court to hold the hearing someplace other than the courthouse
  • whether you are going to use affidavits or unsworn declarations as evidence
  • whether you want people to tell you and the court—and have the court tell you if they know—if someone in the suit has coronavirus illness/COVID-19

You will ask the judge to sign the Order on Motion to Appear Remotely or the Notice of Remote Appearance.

Fill out the top of the form (the part that asks for the cause number; the court number; and the county) completely in blue or black ink (except for the judge’s signature) and sign it.

The judge will check the boxes next to each number in the order that applies.

If the other side has a lawyer, ask the lawyer to sign.

Note: If the other side (or the other side’s lawyer) will not sign both forms, the motion is not agreed.

File (turn in) your completed Motion with the court.

To file online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions.

To file in person, you would take the motion and copies to the district clerk’s office in the county where your legal matter is proceeding. During the COVID-19 crisis, it might not be an option to file it in person. Call the clerk’s office and ask what their procedures are.

Ask the clerk if there is a local standing order that you need to follow or attach to any of your documents. Ask the clerk if there are local rules or procedures you need to know about for family law proceedings. Or, check the clerk’s website, because fees are often listed online. 

If you had filed in person, the clerk would “file-stamp” your forms with the date and time. The clerk would keep the original and return your copies. But, if you are filing it electronically, there should be an electronic stamp on it. Check your email so you know what the status is.

Note: There should not be a filing fee for this type of motion. You should check with the clerk’s office to make sure. If there is a fee, and you cannot afford it, you might be able to get filing fees waived. See Court Fees and Fee Waivers.

Follow the clerk’s instructions on how to present your Motion for Use of Emergency Procedures to a judge. Sometimes the judge will sign the order without needing to hear from you. Sometimes they will want to have a hearing. That hearing might be by teleconference, videoconference, or phone.

If the judge signs your Order on Motion for Use of Emergency Procedures, contact the clerk’s office to make sure it is on file with them. A list of district and county clerks is available here: Judicial Directory.

Ask the clerk whether you need to let anyone else at the courthouse know that the motion allowing videoconferencing or telephonic access has been granted. You may need to let the court administrator know of the change so the court’s calendar can be updated.

Send a file-stamped copy of the signed Order on Motion for Use of Emergency Procedures to the other side by email, fax, USPS, or commercial delivery. Keep proof that you sent it. You must bring proof when you appear online or by phone for court on your new hearing date. 

Forms Required

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