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  • Supreme Court Emergency Orders - Updated 1/31/23

    • To help courts determine which orders are currently active, this section will provide those orders, with a link to read the full text, along with a brief description of the effects of the orders. For complete details on how the orders affect specific types of cases, please see the other topic sections on this page.

      Final General Emergency Order - Effective February 1, expires March 1, 2023. Renewal of the 59th Emergency Order, allowing modification of certain procedures; providing guidance on remote and in-person proceedings. Please note that this Order requires the judge to hold the Zoom hearing from the usual place designated for holding court unless the judge is a visiting judge assisting in clearing case backlog. (Read the Final General Emergency Order here.)

      58th Emergency Order - Effective January 1; expires March 1, 2023. This order addresses procedures related to the Texas Eviction Diversion Program and other rental assistance programs. (Read the 58th Emergency Order here.) Please see the Residential Eviction section below for full information and to download the forms and documents related to this Order.

  • Residential Eviction Case Guidance - Updated 1/31/23

    • Although not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rule 505.1 was amended effective February 1, 2023, to require eviction judgments to include information about the parties' appeal rights. The language that must be included is:

      “You may appeal this judgment by filing a bond, making a cash deposit, or filing a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs within 5 days after this judgment was signed. See Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 510.9(a).”

    • The Supreme Court has issued its 58th Emergency Order, effective through March 1, 2023, reflecting that the Texas Eviction Diversion Program portal is no longer accepting applications but that there is a new $33 million in assistance being made available (read the 58th Emergency Order). 

      Forms and Documents
      The Order requires additional language for citations in eviction cases. TJCTC has developed a sample citation form that meets these requirements. Download the citation form.

      Discussion of the Program with Parties
      The judge must confirm whether the plaintiff has any pending applications for rental assistance related to the tenant and premises in the current case (or submitted any information to a program for purposes of receiving rental assistance for this tenant and premises). The court should also discuss any available local rental assistance programs with each party at an eviction trial where the grounds are nonpayment of rent. Local rental assistance program information may be found at the CFPB website

      A landord is not required to participate in rental assistance programs.

      Procedure if Parties are Participating
      Parties can decide to participate in available rental assistance programs at any point in the case, even post-judgment, as long as no writ of possession has been issued. If the plaintiff has a pending application for rental assistance related to the premises and tenant in the pending case, or provided information to an agency for the purpose of getting rental assistance, or both parties wish to participate in rental assistance, the court must immediately places the case on a 60-day hold and make all documents related to the case confidential and unavailable to the public. Download the abatement form.

      Procedure to Reinstate the Case
      At any time during the 60-day period, the landlord may file a motion to reinstate (which should also be served on the tenant). The motion must state that any application for rental assistance or for the TEDP has been denied, canceled, or withdrawn or that the plaintiff has communicated to the agency that they no longer wish to participate or receive rental assistance. 

      The court then issues a written order that reinstates the case and states the procedure for the case to proceed. The trial should be held within 21 days of the reinstatement. Also, all records related to the case should be made available to the public again. Download the reinstatement order.

      Procedure if no Reinstatement Filed
      The plaintiff may request an extension of the abatement period, and the court may extend it for no more than 60 days per extension. If no reinstatement motion or extension request is filed, the court must dismiss the case on the day after the end of the abatement period, and all records remain confidential.

      The case is dismissed with prejudice, meaning this same specific claim may not be re-filed, but the landlord may file a new eviction case based on breaches of the lease other than nonpayment occurring during or after participation in the program, or based on nonpayment of rent due after the 60 day window. Download the dismissal order form

    • All courts are expected to have resumed cases on the regular timeframes, although remote hearings are still authorized under the Supreme Court's Final General Emergency Order through March 1. Additionally, new TRCP 500.10 authorizes remote proceedings going forward, regardless of Emergency Orders. See the section on Remote Hearings for details. However, note that the Final General Order requires the judge to hold the Zoom hearing from the usual place designated for holding court unless the judge is a visiting judge assisting in clearing case backlog, and Rule 500.10 which will apply beginning March 1, eliminates the visiting judge exception.

      Click here for a sample notice for a remote eviction hearing.

      Click here for sample Zoom instructions for parties.

    • While the TEDP has closed, the following forms should be used to comply with the Supreme Court's 56th Emergency Order relating to rental assistance programs.

      Eviction Citation - now including the updated warnings in English and Spanish as required by the 56th Emergency Order (updated 11/11/21)

      Order Abating an Eviction Case and Making Records Confidential (TEDP) - updated 11/11/21.
      Order Dismissing an Eviction Case (TEDP) - updated 11/11/21.
      Order Reinstating an Eviction Case (TEDP) - updated 11/11/21.

    • In all residential eviction cases based partially or completely on nonpayment of rent, citations must include a warning to the tenant about rental assistance in both English and Spanish. 

      Eviction Citation -  updated November 10, also effective November 10, no longer required to attach the TEDP Brochure.

      The requirement to include this information in the citation only applies to residential evictions based partially or completely on nonpayment of rent. However, TJCTC believes it is OK for courts to include this information on all eviction citations, both because it is difficult to ensure the correct forms are used in every case, but also because any eviction could become related to nonpayment if the tenant fails to continue paying rent.

    • The expiration of the Texas Supreme Court's 34th Emergency Order means that plaintiffs are no longer required to include in an eviction petition whether a property is a "covered dwelling" or whether a 30-day notice to vacate was given.

      However, as always, the plaintiff must prove that they have given the proper notice to vacate in order to receive a judgment of possession. If the property is a "covered dwelling" and the eviction is based on nonpayment, the plaintiff is still required to give a 30-day notice to vacate. This requirement of the CARES Act did not expire on March 31. If the property is not covered by the CARES Act or the eviction is not based on nonpayment, then the standard notice to vacate rules would apply. (For information on whether a property is a "covered dwelling" see the section in this category on "Determining if a Property is a "Covered Dwelling" Under the CARES Act.'")

      If a petition describes the notice to vacate given as well as the reason why that notice to vacate is proper, and the defendant does not appear or answer, the petition must be taken as true. This means that the plaintiff would have proven proper notice to vacate.

      If, instead, the petition doesn't lay out the notice given and why it is proper, or the defendant answers or appears, the petition is not sufficient to prove proper notice to vacate. Rule 500.6 makes clear that justice courts can develop the facts of the case at trial to determine whether the CARES Act applies to an eviction case and whether the proper notice to vacate was given. 

      On April 8, 2022, TJCTC received a brief from TAA outlining their position that the 30-day notice to vacate provision no longer applies. Read the brief here.

    • What is a "Covered Dwelling"?
      In short, the Act applies to all housing programs such as public housing, project-based section 8, Housing Choice Vouchers, LIHTC, etc, as well as the rural voucher program and properties with federally-backed mortgages (HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac; more detailed definitions are in the Act). 

      If a property has some tenants to which these programs apply, the CARES Act will likely cover all tenants at that property, according to its plain language. This interpretation is not universally accepted, with many advocates taking this position, while HUD says that a "market rate property" that accepts vouchers is only covered for the tenants using the vouchers.

      Effects of the CARES Act
      While most of the provisions have expired, the provision requiring a 30-day notice to vacate has not expired. This provision requires a 30-day notice to vacate if the property is a covered dwelling AND the eviction is based on nonpayment.

      What Evictions are Not Affected by the Act?
      The CARES Act does not affect the following:

      • Commercial evictions;
      • Eviction cases that were filed before March 27, 2020;
      • Eviction cases with purely private landlords with none of the funding described above; or
      • Eviction cases in which the grounds for eviction are not related to nonpayment.

      How Can it be Determined if a Property is a Covered Dwelling?
      Landlords can go to the TDCHA website here and click on "HTC Property Inventory (XLSX)" under Additional Guidance and Resources to search a database to determine if their property is subject to the LIHTC restrictions, and can go to this website to check their property against a multi-family housing database.

      Also, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid has composed a map that, while not exhaustive, has tremendous information on covered properties and may be accessed here. More resources for tenants and landlords related to the CARES Act are found on our SRL page, www.tjctc.org/SRL

  • Guidance for Remote Hearings - Updated 1/31/23

    • The Supreme Court issued Rule 500.10, which governs remote proceedings going forward as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Judges can allow or require participants to appear remotely, but must give proper notice of the hearing, including instructions to log on, and provide the public access to the court proceeding, unless the judge orders the proceeding closed in writing for good cause.

      Read new Rule 500.10.

    • Courts may consider as evidence sworn statements made out of court or sworn testimony given remotely, out of court, such as by teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other means.

      Courts may allow or require all persons to participate in proceedings remotely. However, note that the Texas Supreme Court's Final General Emergency Order requires the judge to hold the Zoom hearing from the usual place designated for holding court unless the judge is a visiting judge assisting in clearing case backlog. Additionally, see below for additional restrictions for remote jury trials.

      Click here for a sample Zoom hearing notice and instructions, developed with TJCTC input by the COVID Workgroup. 

      Click here for sample Zoom Instructions to send to parties, and see other sample forms in other sections.

      Click here for best practices for Zoom hearings involving self-represented litigants or litigants with disabilities, from Texas Access to Justice.

      Click here to watch OCA's July 31, 2020 webinar on effective remote hearings in justice court. 

      Click here for OCA's benchcard on public access to electronic hearings.

      OCA has established Zoom accounts for courts, and set up a page discussing how Zoom works, including a webinar, as well as creating court YouTube channels to allow public access to the courts. You can access that page here. Also, please see TJCTC's webinars on Tech Tools and on using Zoom.

      Here are some ways to protect your Zoom meetings from being hacked: 

      1. Disable Guest Screen Sharing. By restricting screen sharing to the host, you can prevent anyone else from being able to display what is on their desktop.
      2. Require the Host to Be Present.
      3. Keep Your Personal Meeting ID Private.
      4. Use a Password.
      5. Use The Waiting Room.

      Check out these articles for more information

      https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/hackers-are-trying-to-get-into-your-zoom-meetings-here-are-5-ways-to-stop-them.html

      https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/securely-host-zoom-meetin

    • Courts may continue to use reasonable efforts to conduct proceedings remotely. However, note that the Texas Supreme Court's Final General Emergency Order requires the judge to hold the Zoom hearing from the usual place designated for holding court unless the judge is a visiting judge assisting in clearing case backlog. 

      Virtual (or remote) jury trials must not be held unless the court has considered in a written order any objection or motion related to the jury trial at least 7 days before the trial, or as soon as practicable if the objection or motion is made within 7 days of the trial. Courts may not permit or require a juror or potential juror to appear remotely unless it is assured that all jurors or potential jurors have access to technology to participate remotely.

      OCA has published its jury trial guide based on its observations of jury trials. Click here to download the guide

    • Click here to view TJCTC's webinar on Technology Tools that your court or office will find extremely useful during the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to download the accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

      Click here to watch a fun and informative TJCTC webinar on using Zoom to hold remote hearings, including a demo of a remote writ of retrieval hearing.

      Click here for an introductory webinar on how to set up Zoom in your court.

      Click here for a sample Zoom hearing notice and instructions, developed with TJCTC input by the COVID Workgroup. 

      Click here to watch OCA's July 31 webinar on effective remote hearings in justice court. 

      Click here for OCA's benchcard on public access to electronic hearings.

      Click here for Sample Zoom Instructions to send to parties, and see other sample forms in other sections.

      Click here for best practices for Zoom hearings involving self-represented litigants or litigants with disabilities, from Texas Access to Justice.

      Here is a new answer form for use in small claims cases, developed with TJCTC assistance by the Texas COVID-19 Workgroup. This form captures information about the defendant's ability to participate in remote hearings.

  • Guidance for In-Person Proceedings - Updated 3/7/22

  • Magistration Issues - Updated 11/1/2022

    • TJCTC has updated its position on GA-13. See below the divider for the original posting.

      Although GA-13 has not been formally modified, amended or rescinded, we believe there is a reasonable argument that it was superseded by the Governor when he signed the Damon Allen Act into law on September 13, 2021. The matters addressed in GA-13, including the release on a personal bond of a defendant previously convicted of a crime involving physical violence or the threat of physical violence, were covered comprehensively in the Damon Allen Act, which specifically dealt with when a defendant may be released on a personal bond rather than a bail bond, and the definition of a violent offense. We have been informed that the general understanding among higher courts in the Texas judiciary is that the Damon Allen Act superseded (or rendered moot) GA-13.

      In addition, two appellate courts have held that GA-13 did not alter the bail reduction or early release provisions of Art. 17.151. Ex Parte Larue, 2021 WL 2816412 (Tex. App.—Tyler June 30, 2021); and Ex Parte Sifuentes, 639 W.W.3d 842 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2022). And one district court has held that GA-13 itself is “unconstitutional and unenforceable.” In re Janie Villeda, Cause No. 2021 W 0296 (379th District Court, August 16, 2021).

      If you believe GA-13 remains in effect despite the Governor signing the Damon Allen Act into law, a few options are still available. The defendant could be given a surety bond in a low amount or the county attorney could dismiss the warrant/complaint resulting in the release of the person if they are concerned that the person has been in jail too long without the case being sent to their office. They could always refile the case later if they do so within the statute of limitations for the offense.


      On March 29, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-13 prohibiting the release of a defendant on a personal bond if the defendant is currently arrested for (with a finding of probable cause), or was previously convicted of, a crime that involves physical violence or the threat of physical violence.

      How Do I Know if The Defendant Has Prior Violence-Related Convictions?
      Convictions should be considered if they are found in criminal history records or contained in the complaint or probable cause affidavit.

      Effect of the Governor’s Order
      The Governor’s Executive Order applies to the following articles of the Code of Criminal Procedure:

      • Art. 17.03 is suspended to the extent necessary to preclude the release on personal bond of any person previously convicted of a crime that involves physical violence or the threat of physical violence, or of any person currently arrested for such a crime that is supported by probable cause.

      • Art. 17.151 is suspended to the extent necessary to prevent any person’s automatic release on personal bond because the State is not ready for trial.

      • Art. 15.21 is suspended to the extent necessary to prevent any person’s automatic release on personal bond because the jail of the county where the offense is alleged to have been committed does not take charge of the arrested person before the 11th day after the date the person is committed to the jail of the county in which the person is arrested.

      The Executive Order does not prevent the release of a defendant on a personal bond for any offense other than those involving physical violence or the threat of physical violence, or any offense specifically listed as ineligible for personal bond in Art. 17.03.

      The Order also does not prevent the release of a defendant on a bail bond (either surety or cash bond) nor does it affect the amount of bail a magistrate may set based upon the factors set forth in Art. 17.15.

      The full text of the Executive Order may be viewed here.

      For further information on the above-referenced statutes, on setting bail and bond conditions, and on the difference between a personal bond and a bail bond, please see pages 20-26 of the revised Magistration Deskbook.

      We will advise you of any further developments concerning this Executive Order.

  • Inquest Issues - Updated 4/15/21

    • Judges with questions about the below guidance should email fieldservices@dshs.texas.gov.  

      In April 2020, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released Guidance for Certifying Deaths Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) available at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvss/vsrg/vsrg03-508.pdf. NCHS also provided answers to FAQs from certifiers about how to report deaths due to COVID-19 on death certificates, among other related topics, which can be accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/covid19/faq.htm. The page has four main sections: How NCHS Collects and Reports Data on Deaths Due to COVID-19, Surveillance of Deaths Due to COVID-19, Coding Deaths Due to COVID-19, and Certifying Deaths Due to COVID-19.

      Certifiers should only report conditions that they determine caused or contributed to death. If the certifier determines COVID-19 is a cause of death, then they should report it on the death certificate. If the certifier determines COVID-19 did not cause or contribute to death, then they should not report it on the death certificate.

      Certifying Deaths Due to COVID-19 Vaccines on Death Certificates

      Like all other causes of death, if the certifier determines that a condition is a cause of death, then they should report it on the death certificate. Like any vaccine, if a certifier determines that a COVID-19 vaccine caused or contributed to death, then they should report it on the death certificate, along with any complications it caused to specify how the vaccine caused death. For example, if the certifier determines a COVID-19 vaccine was the underlying cause of death, then “adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccine” or other similar language should be reported on the lowest line used in Part I with the specific adverse effects on the lines above in a logical sequence. An example of a cause-of-death statement could be “anaphylaxis” on line a. and “allergic reaction to COVID-19 vaccine” on line b. It is the certifier’s responsibility to determine whether there was a causal relationship between any medical condition or medical care, such as a vaccine, and the death. A temporal relationship between a vaccination and death is a necessary but not sufficient condition to indicate a causal relationship. Certifiers should not report medical conditions as causes of death on the death certificate based on only a temporal relationship. As always, personally identifiable information, such as individual names, as well as organization names, including brand names, should not be reported in cause-of-death fields. This guidance is consistent with current procedures for cause-of-death reporting.

    • When out on death calls, the judge should always be protecting themselves from the potential spread of COVID-19. One of the ways that they can do that is by wearing appropriate PPE.

      Guidelines That May be Helpful:

      From the CDC: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirator-use-faq.html

      From the National Funeral Directors Association: www.nfda.org/covid-19/technical-information

      Medical examiners have suggested JPs should contact their county emergency operating center or emergency coordinator (in many places this is the county judge). The JP may be able to order PPE through them.

      One medical examiner also said that she knows that Amazon and other retailers are stocking masks and disinfectant that they are only selling to medical and governmental entities. The judge can coordinate purchases like this through their county purchasing department, treasurer, or auditor.

      Other potential resources are local law enforcement or emergency medical services. They may be willing to share any extra PPE that they have or let a JP’s office add on to an upcoming bulk order. Many law enforcement suppliers stock PPE that is recommended and may have still have some available.

      It is important to note that PPE is scarce for everyone right now, so be patient, use the resources that you have, and try to work with your county partners to make sure everyone is operating safely.

      Protect yourself with whatever resources you have available. We recognize there is a shortage of masks, gloves, and sanitizers. It’s a good idea to change clothes and wash them after and use Lysol spray or wipes – if available – on surfaces that may have come in contact with suspected contaminated areas.

      Have a plan with first responders so not as many people are entering homes where no foul play is suspected. This may mean that you do not see the body in its final position and are giving permission to move bodies before you get to a scene.

      This is a time when ‘reasonable location’ may mean performing inquests over the phone. The less spread of germs, the better. Use your best judgment and common sense.

      Click here to download the Mass Casualty Incidents information from UH Law & Policy Institute

      Watch a video from a Texas mortuary professional with tips on conducting an inquest during the pandemic. 

      Please see the Autopsies and Testing section under this tab for details on handling bodies.

    • An autopsy may not be ordered to be performed on a COVID-19 death. Code of Criminal Procedure 49.10 (d) … "A justice of the peace may not order a person to perform an autopsy on the body of a deceased person whose death was caused by a communicable disease during a public health disaster."

      However, many labs will perform autopsies in certain situations. Check with the entity that your county contracts with for autopsies to see what their policy is. Additionally, visit our Recordings for Credit page for our Conversations with a Medical Examiner series of webinars.

      CDC Guidance:

      Visit the CDC website on Coding and Certifying COVID-19 Deaths.

      Click here to download the April 2020 guidance on Certifying COVID-19 Deaths. 

      Interim Guidance for Collection and Submission of Postmortem Specimens from Deceased Persons Under Investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, February 2020: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-postmortem-specimens.html

      Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/lab/guidelines-clinical-specimens.html

    • Visit the CDC website on Coding and Certifying COVID-19 Deaths.

      Click here to download the April 2020 guidance on Certifying COVID-19 Deaths. 

      You may be able to gather information from witnesses that lead you to believe the person died from COVID-19. This may be from family members or there may be a doctor who says they believe that is the cause of death but were unable to test. The symptoms include a spiked fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

      If you believe that the death was likely or suspected COVID-19, you should state that in the death certificate: “suspected coronavirus disease” or “suspected COVID-19.” This is important data you are creating that will help with planning for future public health disasters. 

      For deaths due to COVID-19, report COVID-19 in Cause of Death – Part I on the Medical 2 tab. Report other chronic conditions that may have contributed (e.g. COPD, asthma) in Cause of Death – Part II on the Medical 2 tab. See our autopsy section regarding sending suspected or confirmed COVID-19 deaths for autopsy in light of Art. 49.10(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

  • Coronavirus-Related Webinars - Updated 8/31/22