Texas Supreme Court Approves Amended Local Rules for Dallas County Civil Courts
By Jennifer Larson Ryback
Feb. 5, 2014
On January 15, 2014, the Supreme Court of Texas approved amended local rules for the civil courts of Dallas County. Among other things, the amendments impose new administrative and timing requirements that will affect virtually every Dallas County practitioner. A redline of the changes is available here.
The first noteworthy change amends Local Rule 2.04 to require pleadings to include page numbers that continue in sequential order—even through the exhibits and attachments. The amendment specifically requires that sequential page numbering should continue throughout all exhibits and should not re-start with each succeeding document. Further, any reference in the pleading to an exhibit should include the sequential page number reference. Federal practitioners will note the similarity to Local Rule 7.1(i) of the Northern District of Texas, except that the federal local rule requires exhibits to be numbered sequentially beginning with the first page of the first exhibit. New Dallas County Local Rule 2.04 appears to require numbering to continue from the beginning of the pleading, so after a 20-page pleading the first page of the first exhibit would be numbered 21.
Also of note is a change made to Local Rule 2.07(d), which expands the list of pleadings that may be filed without a certificate of conference. The list previously included dispositive motions, motions for summary judgment, default judgments, motions for voluntary dismissal or nonsuit, post-verdict motions, and motions involving service of citation. The amendment expands that list by adding 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.
Local Rule 2.09 has been revised to require all briefs, responses, and replies relating to a motion (other than for summary judgment) to be served and filed no later than three working days before the scheduled hearing, except in cases of emergency. The rule states that any briefs not filed and served in accordance with Local Rule 2.09 will likely not be considered. Practitioners will note that this amendment appears to prohibit the last-minute filing of pleadings on the day before, or even the day of, scheduled hearings, a practice not uncommon in the past.
The amendments added new Local Rule 2.11, which requires practitioners who set a hearing to serve notice of that hearing on all parties, with a copy to the Clerk of the Court, “within one business day of receipt of such setting.” Although the new rule states that it should not be construed “to shorten any notice requirement in the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure or other rule or statute,” practitioners will note that Rule 21 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure requires notice of a hearing to be served “not less than three days before the hearing,” so the new local rule effectively shortens that deadline for any hearings set more than four days out.