STANDARDS OF ATTORNEY CONDUCT AND COURT PRACTICES
160TH DISTRICT COURT

In addition to the Local Rules of the Civil Courts of Dallas County, Texas, the parties are directed to take notice of the following court policies:

COURT SPECIFIC POLICIES

Service of Papers Filed with the Court

The Court appreciates courtesy copies of motions and briefs received well in advance of the hearing to allow the Court time to review them prior to the hearing.  The can be provided to the Court at the same time and in the same manner as filing the original papers, provided they are exact duplicates.

Uncontested or Agreed Matters

The Court generally prefers that the parties document agreed matters by Rule 11 Agreements. However, agreed motions for continuances must be filed and comply with local rules for continuances in cases over one year old or as otherwise provided.  Additionally, Agreed Judgments must be supported by agreed motions or by some other unambiguous declaration that all parties are agreeing to the recitals and relief requested in the Agreed Judgment.  Proposed Agreed Judgments without a joint motion signed by the parties that only have the simple notation “Agreed,” “Approved,” or “’Agreed’ or ‘Approved’ as to Form” are not acceptable.  All other uncontested or agreed matters should be presented with a proposed form of order and should reflect the agreement of all parties either (a) by all parties signing the joint motion and proposed order as to form and content, or (b) by personal or authorized signature on the form of the proposed order as to form and content, and confirmation of the agreed relief by the parties in the certificate of conference in the motion.   Non-suits and proposed orders for Non-suits which provide for costs to be paid by the party incurring them cannot be approved without agreement of the parties.  Otherwise, costs must be borne by the Plaintiff.

Briefs

The Court will use its best efforts to review all motions and briefs before any hearing. However, this requires counsel filing the papers in a timely fashion so that the court has an opportunity to review them prior to the hearing.  The court dislikes having to take matters under advisement as much as the parties do. 

Briefs and Motions containing argument or authorities in excess of ten pages should have a table of contents and a table of authorities and begin with a summary of the argument.  ONLY copies of the case or cases which are controlling as to the issue presented – not of all cases cited, or the standard citations to well-established principles such as standards of review, etc. – should be attached and provided to opposing counsel highlighted in the same manner as the Court’s copy.

Proposed Orders

Counsel should provide a proposed Order which provides the relief or ruling counsel is requesting from the Court at the time the Motion or Response is filed.

Telephone Hearings

Permission for participation by counsel in hearings by telephone must be obtained from the court prior to the hearing, and is generally limited to instances where no evidence or testimony will be presented and counsel would have to travel more than one hour to reach court or is otherwise incapacitated. Arrangements should be made with the Court Coordinator.

Fax and Email Communications with the Court

Neither the Court nor the Coordinator accepts fax or email communication from parties or counsel unless permission is given ahead of time.

Discovery Disputes

Discovery disputes, unless otherwise approved, will be heard by having counsel appear in court at 1:30pm on Friday, typically within 7 to 14 days of filing.  The parties will meet and confer, and if a resolution has not been reached by 1:40pm, the Court will hear argument.  The hearing will not be evidentiary or on the record.  Should a record be required after this hearing or if the parties need more time than is available, an appropriate date and time will be assigned on the Court’s standard morning docket.  Normally, as many as 10 discovery disputes, with a maximum of 8 cases, will be set on any given Friday.  Clerks shall notify counsel filing the discovery motion by fax of the Friday hearing, who in turn shall immediately forward the notice to all other counsel.

Default and Minor Prove-Ups

Motions for Default Judgments where damages are un-liquidated will require a prove-up hearing.  Default Judgments that are liquidated should only be submitted by motion and supporting affidavits, if any.  Default Prove-ups are scheduled through the Court Clerk for Judge McFarlin’s Friday 9:30 default docket.  At the time of scheduling a minor prove-up, counsel should inform the Court Clerk whether the hearing will require additional time because an interpreter is needed or because there are multiple ad litems.

 

Protective Orders

 

Protective Orders for confidentiality purposes should not place undue burden on the Court’s ability to manage or try the case.  Protective Orders should not recite that the Court retains continuing jurisdiction.  Protective Orders should not provide for sealing of documents or proceedings unless pursuant to the Court’s ruling after a hearing pursuant to Rule 76a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

 

Trial Continuances

Because trials are typically set based upon the requested date of the parties, continuances, whether agreed or not agreed, are not favored, and the parties should expect to try the case when called.  Cases not reached during the week may be carried over to the following week, particularly if the case is more than a year old.  For cases on file for more than one year, any motion, whether or not agreed to, requesting a continuance of trial must be signed by all parties requesting such a continuance, as well as by counsel.  The Court may require a hearing even for agreed motions for cases more than a year old.  If a Motion for Continuance has not been filed in time to get a hearing prior to the trial date, the case will ride the trial docket until reached – at which time the Motion will be considered.  Motions that are not agreed to must comply with Rule 252 and Local Rule 301.  Reset or continuance for a period of 30 days or less or for less than three months after the expatriation of the discovery deadline will not otherwise affect any of the pretrial deadlines unless specifically provided in the Order. All vacation letters should be in the Court file if they are to be considered for reset or continuance purposes.  Failure to mediate will not be a cause for delay of a trial setting.

 

Trial Announcements and Calling Cases to Trial

 

Parties are required to make announcement regarding their readiness for trial in accordance with Dallas Civil Court Rule 3.02.  Announcements are to be made during business hours starting at 9:00 am of the Thursday before the trial date and before Friday at 10:30 am by calling the Court Coordinator at 214-653-7273.  Please do not ask what number your case is on the docket before announcing.  When making the announcement, the parties shall provide the following information:

 

1.   Your name, phone number, case number and party on whose behalf you
      are announcing.

2.      Whether the party is ready, not ready or “ready subject to.”  An announcement of “not ready” or “ready subject to” does not release you from trial.

3.      If, not ready, or ready subject to, give the reason or reasons why

4.      If announcing not ready because counsel is in trial or has been called to trial in another case, provide the style, cause number, and court contact information of the other case.

5.      If announcing ready subject to being called to trial in another case, provide the style, cause number, and court contact information of the other case.

6.      An estimate of how long it will take to present your case in chief, and an estimate of how long the entire case will take.

7.      Whether there are any out-of state parties or counsel that will require more than 24 hour stand-by notice to appear for trial.

 

Failure of the Plaintiff to announce for trial will result in the case being placed on the court’s dismissal docket.  Failure to announce by the defendant will be taken by the court as an announcement of ready.

 

Failure of the Plaintiff to appear for trial when the case has been called will result in the case being dismissed for want of prosecution pursuant to Rule 165a of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.  Failure of the Defendant to appear may result in a default judgment.

If a case is not called for the Monday trial docket, the parties will be on standby to be called to trial during the week.  Cases not reached during the week may be continued over to the following week, particularly if the case is more than a year old. 

 

Court’s Trial Docket and Rule 166 Pre-trial Matters

 

Parties who want a pre-trial conference prior to the day of trial should notify the Court Coordinator.  Be prepared to identify the matters under Rule 166 that require the Court’s attention, how much time will be needed and the availability of the parties to visit with the Judge.  After this information is shared with the Judge, the parties will be notified if and when the pre-trial will take place.  

 

When appearing for trial, the court will expect the parties to have met and conferred regarding:

 

            - Agreements, if any, for stipulated evidence

            - Agreements, if any, for stipulated exhibits

            - Exchange of witness and exhibit lists

            - Agreements regarding Motions In Limine

            - Agreements regarding demonstrative aids or exhibits for opening statements

            - Jury Panel size

            - Jury questionnaires, if any

 

At docket call for trial, the court requires from each party the following (the court will appreciate counsel cooperating to provide the materials in a single, three ring notebook):

 

- List of witnesses and exhibits each party expects for their respective case in chief

            - Most recent pleading of each party

- Proposed jury questions and instructions and proposed Judgment (both as a hard copy and on CD that allows the Court to revise if necessary.  The parties are encouraged to submit a single CD with both parties’ materials.)

- Any pertinent Orders affecting the trial, including Scheduling Order, interlocutory Orders granting dispositive relief, Orders on Motions In Limine, etc.

- Trial Briefs, if any

 

Docket call should be reserved for only those matters for which the parties could not reach agreement and that can be resolved in 30 minutes or less.