In addition to TJCTC's many training opportunities, we also provide additional resources to meet Texas Justice Court needs. We hope you find these resources useful for furthering your education.
Meet the TJCTC Legal Department
Our legal department is made up of four attorneys who are passionate about justice courts. Randy, Bronson, Rebecca, and Amber teach at the seminars across the state, develop the resources below, and answer legal questions. We are always interested in finding out what justice courts need, so if you see a resource missing, please contact us at 512-347-9927.
Randy Sarosdy- General Counsel
Bronson Tucker- Director of Curriculum
Rebecca Glisan- Staff Attorney
Amber Myers- Staff Attorney
Click the topic below for more information
- Ask a Legal Question
- Legal Question Board
- Important Legal Updates
- Webinar Archive
- Online courses & Websites
As an additional resource, our staff attorneys answer legal questions for justices of the peace, court personnel, constables, and deputy constables. The Training Center Legal Department does not provide legal advice or assistance to the general public.
Legal Questions via Phone
The on-duty attorney will take phone calls when they are in the office between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. Please keep in mind that we have a significant travel schedule and will often not be in the office.
Tips for asking questions via phone:
- Call 512-347-9927 and Press 1 for Legal Questions
- If it goes to voicemail, the on-call attorney is either away from his or her desk or on the other line. Please leave a detailed message, your phone number, and your extension.
- We hold over 25 events a year so keep in mind that this service is only available when we are in the office. Thank you!
The legal question board is an online database of every legal question asked and answered on our site. You must have a TJCTC log-in to use the legal board.
Have a question? Start off by searching the legal board. Here are some tips for searching questions on the legal board:
- Think about your search terms. You want to use a search term that will narrow down your search results, but one that is not too specific (i.e. "Eviction" will return hundreds of answers. "Order to vacate" is too specific. "Vacate" would be a great search term to get you the answer you need.)
- Think about different ways a topic might be written when searching (i.e. "Occupational Driver Licenses" or "ODL").
- Use the time frame search option if a topic has undergone recent legislative changes. (i.e. For "Truancy," search from September 1, 2015).
- Click to view your search results in descending order so that you get the most recent answers first.
- When searching the legal questions, you must click "View" to see the full answer.
- If your search query brings up more than one page of questions, click the numbers at the top or bottom to see more questions.
If you do not see the question you are looking for, click here to post a legal question. We will answer questions within five business days. Here are some tips for posting on the legal question board:
- If you have multiple questions, enter each one separately.
- Write out your questions with full words as well as abbreviations (if applicable). That way, future users can easily search for your question and find our answer. (i.e. Write both "Occupational Driver Licenses" and "ODL")
Texas Court of Appeals Holds Time Payment Fee Unconstitutional
In a decision filed on February 5, 2019, the Texas Court of Appeals for the 14th Judicial District held that the time payment fee allocated to the general revenue fund (90% of the $25 collected) is facially unconstitutional. The court held that the portion of the fee that goes to the county (10% of the $25 collected) is valid. Since this case was transferred from the 3rd Court of Appeals to the 14th Court of Appeals, all counties in the 3rd and 14th Judicial Districts would fall under the authority of this opinion. We recommend that judges in those counties immediately meet with county officials, including your county attorney and county auditor, to discuss this opinion before assessing or collecting the full time payment fee in any case.
Those counties are: Harris, Bastrop, Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Coke, Comal, Concho, Fayette, Hays, Irion, Lampasas, Lee, Llano, McCulloch, Milam, Mills, Runnels, San Saba, Schleicher, Sterling, Tom Green, Travis, and Williamson.
A motion for rehearing has been filed, and the state could appeal the decision to the Court of Criminal Appeals and, if so, any CCA ruling would be binding statewide. Additionally, the Legislature may decide to address the time payment fee this session. Stay tuned to the situation, and be sure to attend a TJCTC Legislative Update seminar for the latest information.
Read the opinion here.
Post-Judgment Interest Rate Increases Again 2/1/2019
Effective Friday, February 1, 2019, the post-judgment interest rates for judgments is 5.5%. This rate should be applied to any judgment where the parties don't have a contract specifying a different rate. As a reminder, check https://occc.texas.gov/ monthly to see the current rate.
Living Wage Calculator
MIT has developed a living wage calculator that will estimate the cost of living in your community or region based on typical expenses. The tool helps individuals and communities determines a local wage rate that allows residents to meet minimum standards of living. Click here to view the calculator.
OCA's Self-Represented Litigants Webpage
The Office of Court Administration has created a webpage for self-represented litigants. Click here to view the page. Courts are required to link to the OCA Self-Represented Litigants page and to the Texas Law Library at www.sll.texas.gov.
85th Texas Legislative Session
Federal Judge Declares Harris County Bail System Unconstitutional
A federal judge has issued an order finding that the Harris County bail system is unconstitutional and that many defendants are being detained because they are unable to afford bail. You can read a copy of the opinion here. Full analysis of this opinion will be found in our Summer 2017 newsletter released later this month.
For now, it is imperative to remember that ability to pay is a factor which must be considered each and every time you are setting bail. It is strongly encouraged to consider personal bonds, which can include conditions of release, especially for nonviolent offenders. Also, be aware that keeping someone detained in jail because of their indigency violates that defendant’s rights, and opens up your county to liability.
Information on New OCA Reporting
Last session, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1369, which mandates the reporting of appointments of attorneys ad litem, guardians, guardians ad litem, mediators and competency evaluators in any type of case (with some exclusions). Additionally, all payments received for those appointments must be reported.
Although many justice courts will have appointments of a guardian ad litem or attorney in truancy cases, many courts will have no activity to report. However, every court in the state must report each month, whether or not the court has any reportable activity. Reporting requirements mandated by SB 1369 go into effect September 1, 2016. The first report is due by October 15, 2016.
To download TJCTC's "Truancy - Approval of Payment for Attorney or Guardian form," click here. Also, a powerpoint created by OCA outlining this information and instructions for reporting may be found at OCA's website.
Supreme Court Issues New Rule, Form, on Inability to Pay Costs in Civil Cases
September 1, 2016
On August 31, the Texas Supreme Court released the final edits to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure as well as the final version of their proposed Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs. Justice courts now must make this form available to all litigants, without charge or the necessity of a request. Justice courts must use this form, or a form that has all of the information contained in it. Click here for the updated form.
To view the entire order, including the updates to Rule 502.3 (as well as several other rules being updated with the new title of “Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs”), go to http://www.txcourts.gov/rules-forms/rules-standards.
To view the updated Rules of Civil Procedure with these updated amendments to Rules 500 - 510, click here.
For more information on indigency, visit our Ability to Pay website.
TJCTC and TMCEC Release Texas Truancy Manual
March 30, 2016
TJCTC and the Texas Municipal Court Education Center worked together to create a Texas Truancy Manual with information on processing Truant Conduct cases and forms to utilize in those cases. Click here to view the manual.
Updated Out of County Arrest Contacts and Indigent Defendant Affidavits
March 22, 2016
Click here for the updated out of county arrests contacts and indigent defendant affidavits for every jurisdiction. Brought to you by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.
DSHS Releases Guide for Alternatives to Inpatient Mental Health Treatment
November 12, 2015
Please click here to access the Department of State Health Services' mental health publications, including the Guide for Alternatives to Inpatient Mental Health Treatment.