Court Coronavirus Information
In response to COVID-19, the Supreme Court has issued the following Emergency Orders that are still in effect.
Fifty-Sixth Emergency Order (Expires 1/1/2023)
On October 14, 2022, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced that Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and three local jurisdictions will receive additional rental assistance funds. On October 31, 2022, the Supreme Court issued the Fifty-Sixth Emergency Order, replacing the Court’s Fifty-Fourth Emergency Order, continuing the processes related to actions under the Texas Eviction Diversion Program. The following is a summary of the key provisions of the order:
- provides citation language that must be included in an action for eviction to recover possession of residential property to include a link to information regarding rental assistance programs;
- continues the requirement that a judge confirm whether or not the plaintiff-landlord has any pending applications for rental assistance, including applications for rental assistance through the Texas Eviction Diversion Program, or has provided any information or documentation directly to a rental assistance provider for the purpose of receiving rental assistance;
- continues previous emergency order requirements in cases in which the plaintiff-landlord has a pending application for rental assistance (i.e., abate case for 60 days, make the case confidential, inform the parties how to reinstate the case, dismiss the case after the abatement period expires without the need for a party to file a motion or request the court to do so) and expands these requirements to proceedings in which the plaintiff-landlord has provided information or documentation directly to a rental assistance provider for purposes of receiving rental assistance, a pending application is not mandatory;
- clarifies that an eviction action can be reinstated during the abatement period if the landlord files a motion to reinstate the eviction as provided under the order (by filing a motion showing that the application for assistance has been denied, canceled, or withdrawn or that the plaintiff-landlord no longer wishes to participate in and receive funds from the program);
- adds to the list of reasons a landlord may seek a motion to reinstate an eviction proceeding the fact that the plaintiff-landlord no longer wishes to participate in and receive funds from the program (the prior order only listed the fact that the plaintiff-landlord’s application had been denied, canceled, or withdrawn); and
- provides that if rental assistance is available, the judge should discuss available rental assistance programs and the procedures in the Fifty-Sixth Emergency Order with the parties.
Fifty-Seventh Emergency Order (Expires 1/1/2023)
The Supreme Court has issued the Fifty-Seventh Emergency Order extending the Fifty-Fifth Emergency Order that was set to expire on November 1, 2022. The following are the key provisions of the order:
Limitation on Conducting Proceedings Away from the Court:
Subject to constitutional limitations and review for abuse of discretion, a court may conduct proceedings away from the court only if:
1) exigent circumstances exist
2) conducting proceedings away from the court’s usual location will assist in managing court backlog and: (a) either the court serves multiple counties, or (b) a visiting judge is assigned to the court.
Hearings/Depositions/Other Proceedings –
The order continues the authority of all courts, subject to constitutional limitations and review for abuse of discretion, without a participant’s consent, to require or allow remote hearings, depositions, or other proceedings and to consider sworn statements made out of court or sworn testimony given remotely.
Jury Proceedings –
The new order keeps maintains the following limitations regarding remote jury proceedings:
- In district courts, statutory county courts and constitutional county courts, the court must not require lawyers, parties, or jurors to appear remotely for a jury trial, absent agreement of the parties.
- In justice and municipal courts, the court must not require lawyers, parties, or jurors to appear remotely for a jury trial unless the court has considered on the record or in a written order any objection or motion related to continuing with the jury proceeding at least seven days before the jury proceeding or as soon as practicable if the motion is made or filed within seven days of the jury proceeding.
The order continues the following provisions from prior orders:
- A timely objection to a remote jury proceeding may be granted for good cause.
- Except in non-binding jury proceedings, a court may not permit or require petit jurors to appear remotely unless the court ensures that all potential and selected petit jurors have access to technology to participate remotely.
- OCA must continue issuing and updating best practices and guidance on conducting in-person and remote court proceedings consistent with the order’s provisions.