Supreme Court of Texas Blog: Legal Issues Before the Texas Supreme Court
-----------

E-Brief Rules in Texas Appellate Courts

This list reflects the information published by each Texas appellate court about how it receives electronic briefs. (The information is current as of February 2011. Please let me know if you see information that should be updated.)

Supreme Court of Texas

Status: Required; Appendix

The Texas Supreme Court now requires electronic versions of all briefs other than the most trivial motions. The rules specify that the format should be native (searchable) PDF, that the appendix items should also be made searchable through optical-character recognition if they are scanned, and that refinements such as adding navigational bookmarks are helpful to the Court.

The electronic version should be sent by email when the paper brief is filed.

Although it does not yet replace the paper filing, the Court has already reduced the number of paper copies required of some documents (such as motions for rehearing), relying almost exclusively on the electronic versions. Some Justices read almost all briefs in electronic form; others still use the paper briefs.

Intermediate courts

The Texas courts of appeals have not yet standardized their electronic briefing rules. In most of these courts, you can submit the same sort of electronic brief that is preferred in the Texas Supreme Court. In a few, you have to simplify somewhat. And a few others do not yet accept electronic briefs at all.

  • In 3, an electronic brief is either required or made a strong suggestion: Fifth, Tenth, Fourteenth

  • In 3 more, an electronic brief is requested: Second, Third, Seventh

  • In 4 others, electronic briefs are accepted: Fourth, Eighth, Ninth, Thirteenth

  • 2 of the websites are silent: First, Twelfth

  • And 2 courts say they don’t yet receive them: Sixth, Eleventh

First Court

Status: Unknown

The website is silent on electronic briefs, although it provides guidance to court staff about making electronic versions of the appellate record.

Second Court

Status: Requested; Appendix

The website “asks but does not require” that counsel submit an electronic brief.

It accepts the PDF by email or on a CD-ROM.

Appendix items can be included in the file, and hyperlinks are limited to items that could properly have been included in an appendix.

The email attachment or CD must not contain any document or material that is not included in the original hard copy of the filing with the Court. The CD version of a brief may include hyperlinks to documents that could be included in an appendix but were too voluminous or impracticable to be attached to the hard copy.

The rules also specify that, by submitting an electronic brief, counsel consent to the court publishing these briefs on the Court’s website.

Third Court

Status: Requested; Appendix

The website says that electronic briefs are “requested (but not required).” They will accept only on a CD or DVD; “email will not be accepted at this time.”

As for format, the court “will only accept searchable PDF.” And the hyperlinks are somewhat limited:

The CD/DVD must contain only the electronic copy of the submitted document. The CD/DVD version of a brief, however, may include hyperlinks to documents that could have been included in the paper appendix but were not.

Rather than reduce the number of paper copies, at this time the Court also requests an additional paper copy of each brief to be sent to Thompson/West for scanning to be sold back as part of their appellate-brief database.

Fourth Court

Status: Permitted; Appendix

The website says that the Court “prefers … searchable PDF format.” They will accept submissions by email as well as on CD.

The submission must mirror the paper copy:

The email attachment or CD must contain only an electronic copy of the submitted filing. The email attachment or CD must not contain any document or material that is not included in the original hard copy of the filing with the Court.

Fifth Court (Dallas)

Status: Required; Appendix

The website says that electronic briefs are now required to be submitted. They can be sent by email or by CD-ROM. The court says that it “greatly prefers searchable [PDFs].”

The court says that the submission should include both the brief and the appendix — but only those documents:

The CD or e-mail attachment must contain only an electronic copy of the submitted brief and the appendix. Documents contained in the appendix of the electronic copy of the brief must conform to Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.8 and 38.1(k)

Sixth Court (Texarkana)

Status: Not Permitted (Unknown)

The internal operating procedures say that they are not accustomed to receiving electronic briefs: “The court has not previously received briefs … on CD-ROMs.”

Seventh Court (Amarillo)

Status: Requested; Not Specific

The internal operating procedures say that electronic briefs are “requested (but not required).” They should be sent on a CD-ROM; searchable PDF is the preferred format.

Eighth Court (El Paso)

Status: Not Permitted

The internal operating procedures do not permit electronic briefs:

The court does not accept electronic filings, but it will receive electronically filed briefs (e.g., on CD-ROM) to be used as an aid to the court.

Ninth Court (Beaumont)

Status: Permitted; Not Specific

The internal operating procedures notes that they are sometimes helpful:

The court has received briefs or records on CD-Rom’s and has found them helpful.

Tenth Court

Status: Strongly Encouraged; Very Restricted Format

By Local Rule 12(g), the preferred file format is a searchable PDF, which can be submitted by email or on CD-ROM.

Two things are notable about the Tenth Court’s policy — and they are related. First, the court already publishes these PDF briefs on its website for the world to see. Second, the court does not permit any portion of the record to be included:

The email attachment, disc or CD must contain only an electronic copy of the submitted filing. The email attachment or disc/CD must not contain any document or material that is not included in the original hard copy of the filing with the Court.

By not permitting the record to be attached, the court lessens the risk of information being revealed on the website that should instead have been redacted. (The Texas Supreme Court has tackled the same problem by having a strict redaction policy.)

Eleventh Court (Eastland)

Status: Not Permitted

The internal operating procedures say that it “does not receive briefs or records on CD-ROMs.”

That statement surprised me because I thought at least some of their judges liked to read briefs on e-readers.

Twelfth Court (Tyler)

Status: Unknown

The website and rules do not mention electronic briefs.

Thirteenth Court (Corpus Christi-Edinburg)

Status: Permitted; Not Specific

The court’s internal operating procedures note that briefs have been helpful, at least in some cases:

Court has received briefs or records on CD-Rom’s and has found them helpful in cases involving a voluminous record.

For those interested in hyperlinking, the same procedures also note the court’s preference for Lexis:

Court subscribes to both Westlaw and Lexis. Court members typically use Lexis because they have unlimited usage; thus, it is better to cite to Lexis.

Fourteenth Court (Houston)

Status: Strongly Encouraged (in lieu of extra paper copies); Not Specific

The court’s home page invites litigants to file an electronic version “in lieu of” multiple paper copies:

However, in lieu of filing multiple copies of documents as required by Rule 9.3(a) of the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure, a party is only required to file an original and one (1) copy of each document filed. The Court prefers a party satisfy the copy requirement by filing with the original document one (1) copy in an electronic format on a standard compact disk in an Adobe PDF compatible format.

Its Internal Operating Procedures notes that previous briefs received by CD-ROM have been helpful:

The Court has received briefs or records on CD-Rom and has found them helpful. The Court does not have the capability to accept electronic filings at this time, but e-filing procedures are being developed.

3 Comments

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 pat rogers // Feb 18, 2011 at 11:36 am

    thanks tons for your work on this blog. very helpful and informative.

  • 2 Iain Simpson // Feb 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    As I understand it, the First and Fourteenth courts have been moving more or less in lockstep on this. Some months ago, the clerks of the two courts spoke at the Houston Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section monthly meeting, and they indicated that they are very much on the same page as far as electronic filing is concerned, though I do not recall the specifics. At any rate, the answer to what the First court is doing may be “same as the Fourteenth.”

  • 3 Don Cruse // Feb 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I was also under the impression that the First and Fourteenth were moving in parallel on this one. I just couldn’t find confirmation on the website. As soon as I have a chance (and on a day when the courts are open, unlike today), I’ll give them a call and see how I should update this list.

Leave a Comment