Frequently Asked Questions

Our Frequently Asked Questions are sorted based on the area of interest. If you do not find the answer you need, please contact your local District Clerk’s Office (contact numbers are available under “Court Info,” “Court Locations”).

Appeals

How many days do I have to file an appeal?

In a civil case, the notice of appeal must be filed with the U.S. District Clerk’s Office within 30 days after the judgment is entered. When the United States or its officer or agency is a party, the notice of appeal may be filed by any party within 60 days after the judgment is entered. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a).

What is the filing fee for a notice of appeal?

The filing fee for a notice of appeal is $505.00.

Where do I pay the appeal fee?

Upon filing a notice of appeal, you can either pay the appeal fee in person or mail it to the U.S. District Clerk’s Office. Checks are to be made payable to “Clerk, U.S. District Court.” The U.S. District Clerk’s Office receives the appellate fee for the Court of Appeals.

How long will it take for a decision on my appeal?

There is no set length of time for an appeal. As the case is being decided by the Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Clerk’s Office can make no prediction as to the length of time it will take. However, factors that may affect the length of time it takes the appeal may include the Court of Appeals caseload, complexity of the issues, etc.

What do you send to the Court of Appeals, what makes up the record?

The original papers and exhibits on file or in the custody of the Clerk of Court (except for oversized exhibits or sensitive exhibits such as drugs, firearms, currency, etc.), the transcript of proceedings, if any, and a certified copy of the docket entries prepared by the deputy clerk of the District Court shall constitute the record on appeal in all cases. See Fed. R. App. P. 10(a).

What type of cases need a certificate of appealability?

A certificate of appealability is needed to appeal the denial of a habeas corpus petition by a person in state custody under 28 U.S.C. §2254 or a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence by a person in federal custody under 28 U.S.C. §2255. See Fed. R. App. P. 22(b).

When is the record ready to be sent to the Court of Appeals?

It is the responsibility of the deputy clerk of the District Court to complete the record on appeal and to transmit it to the Court of Appeals. Generally in civil and criminal cases when all transcripts that have been ordered are filed and the filing fee has been paid or an application for in forma pauperis is granted the record will be transmitted. Section 2254 and 2255 cases should also include the District Court’s order ruling on the motion for certificate of appealability. Once the volumes are bound and labeled, and the transcript volumes, depositions, and exhibit containers are labeled, the record is ready for transmission to the Court of Appeals. The original record must be transmitted to the Court of Appeals within 15 days after it is complete for purposes of appeal.

When the record is at the Court of Appeals, should all subsequent filings be filed with the Court of Appeals?

Once the record is at the Court of Appeals, all further filings relating to the appeal should be sent to the Court of Appeals. However, transcript order forms should be filed in the District Court. If a pleading is filed in the District Court (and any subsequent ruling should one be necessary), it will be forwarded to the Court of Appeals as a supplement to the record.

Attorney Admission

How do I get information on practicing in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas?

Please see the Local Court Rules and Attorney Admissions sections. You can also contact the attorney admission clerk in the divisional office in which you intend to apply. Each division has specific requirements that may be in addition to those specified in the local rules. Do not mail your application until all required letters and certificates are included. The fee for attorney admission is $201.00. If you are already admitted and are in need of a duplicate Certificate of Admission, the fee is $19.00.

How do I obtain a certificate of good standing?

A Certificate of Good Standing verifies that an attorney is a member in good standing with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. A fee of $19.00 is required for this certificate.

If you are a CM/ECF authorized user, you must request and pay for your certificate by logging into CM/ECF. Locate the Request for “Certificate of Good Standing” function, found under “Civil Events” > “Other Filings.” You must be prepared with the attorney’s bar number, a credit card for the fee, and an email address to send the certificate to. In most instances, the certificate will be emailed, in .PDF format, no later than the following business day.

If you are not an authorized CM/ECF user, you will need to register by filling out the CM/ECF Registration Form, located on the CM/ECF page to become a registered user. Once registered, you can then follow the instructions above for requesting a Certificate of Good Standing.

How do I apply for admission to practice in the United States District Court for the Western District?

If you are an attorney who is licensed to practice law by the highest court of any state or the District of Columbia, but are not admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, you must file a motion to appear pro hac vice in the division where the case is pending.

How do I obtain a duplicate Certificate of Admission?

You can submit a request stating the name of the attorney, the state bar number and the date of admission to the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. The fee for a duplicate Certificate of Admission is $19.00. Please mail your request and the $19.00 fee to the Division office closest to you. You can get the mailing address for any U.S. District Clerk’s Office through our website menu. Just click on “Contact Us” and select the Division office you want to mail the request to.

Bankruptcy

What are the addresses and phone numbers of the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Western District of Texas?

Any bankruptcy filings and inquiries should be forwarded or directed to the appropriate divisional office of the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas.

What does the Bankruptcy Court Do?

The Bankruptcy Court hears and decides petitions of individuals and businesses seeking relief from bankruptcy. Under the federal bankruptcy code, there are four categories of such cases:

  1. Chapter 7 liquidation, suitable for giving individuals and businesses a fresh start;
  2. Chapter 11 reorganization, suitable for large corporate debtors;
  3. Chapter 13 reorganization, suitable for individual wage earners; and,
  4. Chapter 12 reorganization, suitable for family farmers.

Cash Bail (English)

What exactly is a cash bail and what is its purpose?

A cash bail is a monetary deposit required by the Court to secure the temporary release of someone who is arrested and charged with a criminal offense (i.e., the “defendant”). It is meant to guarantee the appearance of the defendant at all future court proceedings.

Will I get my money back?

Any person who deposits a cash bail can request that the funds be returned to him/her by submitting to the Court a written document entitled, Application For Return of Cash Bail. The Court will then decide if all or part of the funds should be returned to the depositor. A form application is available upon request at the Clerk’s Office or on the “Forms” section of this Court’s website below.

Why would only a portion or none of my deposit be returned?

If the terms and conditions of the bond have not been fully met, the Court may determine that the bond should be forfeited and the deposit applied to the forfeiture. Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office may request the Court to have part or all of the money deposited as cash bail applied to any debt that may be imposed upon the defendant (e.g., assessment, fine, restitution).

Why do I need to keep my receipt?

The ORIGINAL receipt MUST be submitted with the Application For Return of Cash Bail as it establishes proof of ownership of the funds deposited.

When can I fill out an Application for Return of Cash Bail?

An Application for Return of Cash Bail can be filled out and submitted to the Clerk’s Office at any time. However, the Application should not be submitted to the Court for consideration until after the Court has entered a judgment against the defendant or the case against the defendant has been dismissed. Moreover, the Court will not consider an Application for Return of Cash Bail until the judgment becomes final and the defendant has (1) either begun his/her term of Probation, or (2) has been delivered (or has voluntarily reported) to the Bureau of Prisons.

Can the deposit money be returned to the defendant’s attorney?

Yes. A depositor may request that the money deposited as cash bail be assigned to the defendant’s attorney or to any other party (e.g., a relative, friend, etc.) by completing an Application for Assignment of Bond Funds. An assignment application form is available upon request at the Clerk’s Office or on the “Forms” section of this Court’s website below. If the assignment is approved by the Court, the assignee can fill out an Application For Return of Cash Bail once the judgment against the defendant is final, or the case against the defendant has been dismissed.

When can I submit an Application for Assignment of Bond Funds?

The Application for Assignment of Bond Funds can be submitted at any time.

Cash Bail (Versión en Español)

¿Exactamente qué es una fianza monetaria y qué objeto tiene?

Una fianza monetaria es un deposito monetario requerido por el Tribunal para garantizar la libertad temporal de alguien que ha sido detenido/arrestado y acusado de un delito penal (v.g.: “el acusado”). Su objeto es garantizar la comparecencia del acusado en el Tribunal en todas las etapas posteriores del proceso.

¿Recuperaré mi dinero?

Toda persona que deposite una fianza monetaria puede solicitar que los fondos le sean reintegrados presentando al Tribunal un documento intitulado “Application For Return of Cash Bail” (Solicitud de Devolución de Fianza Monetaria). El Tribunal decidirá si se debe devolver al depositario la cantidad total o una parte de los fondos. El formulario de solicitud está a su disposición en la Oficina del Secretario del Tribunal o en la sección de “Forms” ubicada en la pagina de internet del Tribunal, que aparece en la parte inferior de esta página.

¿Por qué se me reembolsaría solo una parte o nada de mi depósito?

Si no se han cumplido plenamente los términos y condiciones de la fianza, el Tribunal podría determinar que debe decomisarse la fianza y que el deposito monetario sea aplicado al decomiso. Asimismo, la Procuraduría de los Estados Unidos puede solicitar al Tribunal que la cantidad total o parte del dinero depositado como fianza monetaria sea aplicada a cualquier deuda que le pudiera ser impuesta al acusado (v.g.: cuota, multa, restitución).

¿Por qué necesito guardar mi recibo?

El recibo ORIGINAL DEBE de ser presentado con la “Application For Return of Cash Bail” (Solicitud de Devolución de Fianza Monetaria), puesto que así se establece la propiedad de los fondos depositados.

¿Cuándo puedo llenar la “Solicitud de Devolución de Fianza Monetaria“?

Usted puede llenar y presentar una “Solicitud de Devolución de Fianza Monetaria” a la Oficina del Secretario del Tribunal en cualquier momento. Sin embargo, el Tribunal no considerará la “Solicitud de Devolución de Fianza Monetaria” sino hasta que se haya registrado una sentencia condenatoria en contra del acusado o que el caso contra el acusado haya sido declarado improcedente. Mas aun, el Tribunal no considerará la “Solicitud de Devolución de Fianza Monetaria” sino hasta que la sentencia haya causado ejecutoria y que el acusado (1) comience su periodo de libertad a prueba, o (2) haya sido entregado (o se haya reportado voluntariamente) al Departamento de Prisiones.

¿Se le puede devolver el dinero del depósito al abogado del acusado?

Sí. El depositario puede solicitar que el dinero de la fianza monetaria se le asigne al abogado del acusado o a cualquier otra persona (v.g., un pariente, amigo, etc.) llenando una “Application for Assignment of Bond Funds” (Solicitud de Asignación de Fondos de la Fianza Monetaria). Este formulario está a su disposición en la Oficina del Secretario del Tribunal o en la sección de “Forms” (Formas) ubicada en la página de internet del Tribunal, que aparece en la parte inferior de esta página. Si el Tribunal aprueba la asignación, la persona autorizada podrá llenar la “Solicitud de Devolución o Asignación de Fianza Monetaria” una vez que la sentencia contra el acusado haya causado ejecutoria o el caso contra el acusado sea declarado improcedente.

¿Cuándo puedo presentar una “Solicitud de Asignación de Fondos de la Fianza Monetaria“?

La “Solicitud de Asignación de Fondos de la Fianza Monetaria” puede ser presentada en cualquier momento.

Civil

What are the requirements for the filing of a civil lawsuit?

A civil action is commenced by filing the following:

  1. Item: Complaint
    Requirements: File the original plus one copy of your complaint, and one copy for each defendant to be served. Exception: If service is to be made on an agent or agency of the U.S. government or the United States of America is named, one copy each is required for the Attorney General, the United States Attorney’s Office and the named agency.

    NOTE: All copies must be signed, dated and identical to the original, and all parties must be named in the style of the case on the complaint, or any other pleading initiating a suit; “et al.” is not acceptable.

  2. Item: Civil Cover Sheet
    Requirements: File the original plus one copy.
  3. Item: Summons
    Requirements: File the original plus one for each party to be served. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4.
  4. Item: Service
    Requirements: The plaintiff is responsible for service of the summons and complaint on the defendant. Service may be effected by anyone at least 18 years of age who is not a party to the suit. The U.S. Marshal will serve summonses only if ordered by the Court or for In Forma Pauperis cases. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4.
  5. Item: Filing Fee
    Requirements: There is a filing fee of $400.00 for most types of civil lawsuits. See Fee Schedule and 28 U.S.C. §1914.

    The fee must be paid at the time your complaint is filed. If you are paying by check or money order, it should be made payable to “Clerk, United States District Court.” The court does not accept credit cards. There are no fees for jury demands, counterclaims, etc.

    If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may file a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. If the court grants this request, it means that you will not have to pay the filing fee at the time your complaint is filed. The form necessary to file a “motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis” is available in the U.S. District Clerk’s Office. When completing the forms, it is very important that you answer all questions relating to your income, assets, and liabilities. If you fail to provide complete and accurate information, your request may be denied or you may be required to provide additional information. If your request is denied, you will be allowed a reasonable opportunity to pay the fee.

  6. Item: Notice of Removal
    Requirements: File the original plus one copy of the civil cover sheet, a supplemental civil cover removal sheet and a Notice of Removal.

All of the forms are available at the U.S. District Clerk’s Office, if available.

Can the U.S. District Clerk’s Office give me legal advice? Can they help me in preparing my complaint?

No. By law the Clerk of Court and his deputies and assistants shall not practice law in any court of the United States or provide legal advice. See 28 U.S.C. §955.

Will the Court appoint me an attorney?

You are not entitled to have an attorney appointed to represent you in a civil action. A judge may appoint an attorney only in exceptional circumstances. If you want a judge to consider appointing an attorney to represent you, you may file a written motion for appointment of attorney along with a financial affidavit.

Where can I find an attorney to help me with my case?

You can contact your Local Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service or Legal Aid offices.

  1. Austin

    Travis County Bar Association
    700 Lavaca, Suite 602
    Austin, Texas 78701
    (512) 472-0279

    Legal Aid of Central Texas
    2201 Post Road, Suite 104
    Austin, Texas 78704
    (800) 369-9270

  2. El Paso

    El Paso Bar Association
    500 E. San Antonio, Room L-115
    El Paso, Texas 79901
    (915) 532-7052

    El Paso Legal Assistance Society
    1301 N. Oregon
    El Paso, Texas 79901
    (800) 373-9028

  3. San Antonio

    San Antonio Bar Association
    Bexar County Courthouse, 5th Floor
    San Antonio, Texas 78205
    (210) 227-8822

    Bexar County Legal Aid Association Inc.
    434 South Main Avenue, Suite 300
    San Antonio, Texas 78204
    (210) 227-0111

  4. Waco

    Heart of Texas Legal Services Corp.
    900 Austin Avenue, 7th Floor
    P.O. Box 527
    Waco, Texas 76703
    (800) 299-5596

If there is no Lawyer Referral Service in your area, call toll-free 1-800-983-9227 in Texas to reach the statewide Lawyer Referral Services, or 1-800-204-2222, extension 2155, for Legal Aid Services.

You can also contact the State Bar of Texas at 1414 Colorado, Austin, Texas 78701, (512) 473-2295 or visit their homepage at http://www.texasbar.com.

How are the summons and complaint served?

The U.S. District Clerk’s Office will sign, seal and issue the summons to the plaintiff. The plaintiff is responsible for service of the summons and complaint on the defendant. Service may be effected by anyone at least 18 years of age who is not a party to the suit. The summons and complaint must be served within 120 days after the filing of the complaint with the Court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4.

What are the different costs associated with a lawsuit?

Please refer to the fee schedule.

Is there a fee for a jury demand, for a summons, or for filing a motion?

No.

How many days do I have to file an answer in a civil case?

The defendant has 21 days from the date of service of the complaint, not counting the date it is received, to answer. The United States or a federal official will have 60 days to answer.

How many copies of each pleading do I file?

An original plus one copy is required for most documents. The U.S. District Clerk’s Office will retain the original for the case file and send a copy to the judge. If you want a file-stamped copy for your records, submit along with a written request (i.e., an original plus two copies).

Can I file a pleading by fax?

No. We do not accept fax filings.

Does my motion require a brief in support?

No. According to the Local Court Rule CV-7(c), the specific legal authorities supporting any motion shall be cited in the motion and the motion shall be limited to ten (10) pages in length, unless otherwise authorized by the Court.

Can I amend my complaint without a motion?

No. You must file an original and one copy of the motion for leave to amend complaint with a copy of the proposed amended complaint with the U.S. District Clerk’s Office in any case where the defendant has filed an answer. If no answer has been filed then you can file your amended complaint without obtaining leave of court.

How long does a judge take to rule on a motion?

Motions are ruled on as soon as possible based on the court schedule and case load.

What is a “certificate of conference”?

Local Court Rule CV-7(h) requires that a non-dispositive motion must include a statement or “certificate” that counsel for the moving party contacted counsel for the opposing party (typically by telephone) to confer in good-faith to resolve the matter by agreement before seeking the Court’s ruling. (A non-dispositive motion is a motion other than a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a motion to dismiss, for summary judgment, for new trial, or for judgment as a matter of law.) Such a “certificate of conference,” that should appear in the body of the motion, might typically state for instance: “On the ____ day of __________ 20___, the undersigned counsel conferred with opposing counsel concerning the relief sought in this Motion, and was advised that opposing counsel opposed (or did not oppose) this Motion.” If the motion is opposed, the certificate should state the grounds for opposing counsel’s objection. If the motion is unopposed, the motion should state so in the title of the motion.

What is a “certificate of service”?

After a defendant has answered a complaint, any motions or other pleadings filed with the Court by either party must include a “certificate of service.” A certificate of service is a statement of the date and manner in which you served a copy of your pleading, motion, or other documents on all other parties or their counsel of record. It is your responsibility to serve the opposing attorney or pro se party with a copy of any pleading, motion, or other documents that you submit to the Court for filing. The U.S. District Clerk’s Office does not send copies of your submissions to other parties. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 5. A sample certificate of service follows:

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that on this ______ day of ___________, 20___, a true and correct copy of the foregoing pleading was forwarded by (first class mail, hand-delivery, or certified mail) to _____________, the attorney for ___________ (defendant) at the address of _______________________.
____________________________
Your Signature and date

What is a “prayer for relief”?

A prayer for relief is a short, concise statement appearing at the end of the complaint which states the relief the plaintiff believes he/she is entitled to. For example, the plaintiff may ask for an award of monetary damages, an injunction to make the defendant stop a certain activity, or both.

Is a proposed order required?

Pursuant to Local Court Rule CV-7(c), a proposed order should be filed with all motions specifically referenced in Rule CV-7(c). These motions are as follows: (1) for extension of time; (2) to continue a pretrial conference hearing or motion, or the trial of an action; (3) for a more definite statement; (4) to join additional parties; (5) to amend pleadings; (6) to file supplemental pleadings; (7) to appoint next friend or guardian ad litem; (8) to intervene; (9) for substitution of parties; (10) relating to discovery, including, but not limited to motions for the production and inspection of documents, specific objections to interrogatories, motion to compel answers or further answers to interrogatories, and motions for physical or mental examination; (11) to stay proceedings to enforce judgment; (12) joint motions to dismiss; (13) to withdraw as counsel; (14) for mediation or other form of alternative dispute resolution; and (15) for approval of an agreed protective order.

In addition to those specified in the local rules, some divisions have standing orders requiring that all motions be accompanied by a proposed order. The litigants should consult standing orders in each division for further information.

Do I need to file a copy of pretrial discovery with the Court?

No. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5(d) provides that discovery requests and responses, depositions, interrogatories, requests for documents, requests for admission, and disclosures under Rule 26(a) may not be filed until either (1) they are used in the proceeding or (2) on order of the Court.

CM/ECF

What does CM/ECF offer?

CM/ECF will allow attorneys to file and view documents from their office, home or anywhere they have access to the Internet, 24 hours a day. Some documents are automatically docketed as part of the filing process and are immediately available electronically. CM/ECF also provides the following benefits:

  1. 24-hour access to filed documents over the Internet.
  2. Automatic email notice of case activity.
  3. The ability to download and print documents directly from the court system.
  4. Concurrent access to case files by multiple parties.
  5. Secure storage of documents.
  6. Potential reduction in courier fees.
  7. Documents filed in text PDF (i.e. documents that are created electronically, rather than scanned) can be text-searched and text-copied. In other words you can highlight and copy text from someone else’s motion or order and paste it into the document that you are preparing, saving you the time of retyping the information.

What do I need to use CM/ECF?
  1. A personal computer running a standard platform such as Windows or Macintosh (only the Firefox browser is supported on the Macintosh).
  2. Word processing software.
  3. Internet access and a browser. The system has been certified with Firefox and Internet Explorer.
  4. Software to convert documents into PDF. There are a number of PDF utilities available that will accomplish the task of creating a PDF document. However, we recommend you avoid freeware PDF creation utilities.
  5. Scanning equipment may be useful.
  6. An email address, preferably not a commercial based email account like Yahoo, Google, or MSN. These commercial accounts are prone to spam and typically have in-box limitations, and will stop accepting email when the in-box is full.
  7. We recommend the use of a high speed Internet connection via DSL or cable modem. Dial-up access is not acceptable for use with CM/ECF.
How does it work?

The electronic case files system accepts documents in a portable document format (PDF). PDF retains the way a document looks, so the pages, fonts and other formatting are preserved. Filing a document with the court’s CM/ECF system is quite easy:

  1. Select the type of document to file.
  2. Enter the case number in which the document is to be filed.
  3. Designate the party(s) filing the document.
  4. Specify the PDF file name and location of the document to be filed.
  5. Add attachments, if any, to the document to be filed.
  6. Modify the docket text as necessary.
  7. Submit the pleading to CM/ECF.
  8. Receive notification of electronic filing (NEF).
  9. Save or Print the NEF. This NEF provides confirmation the ECF has registered your transaction and the pleading is now an official court document. It also displays the date and time of your transaction and the number that was assigned to your document.
Are there fees?

There are no added fees for filing documents over the Internet using CM/ECF; existing document filing fees do apply. Filing user will be prompted to pay by credit card when filing documents that require a filing fee. Electronic access to court data is available through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. Attorneys and litigants receive one free copy of documents filed electronically in their cases; additional copies are available for viewing or downloading at ten cents ($.10) per page. Directed by Congress to fund electronic access through user fees, the judiciary has set the fee at the lowest possible level sufficient to recoup program costs.

How will I sign documents?

The court will issue a login and password to all registered users. Using your login and password to file a document is considered to be your signature. You have two options to sign a document:

  1. Sign the document in ink. This will require that you scan the document into PDF format before electronic filing.
  2. Sign the document using /s/. Example: /s/John A. Doe, Esq. (typed onto the document where the signature normally appears).
How secure is CM/ECF?

CM/ECF has many security features and has passed an evaluation by the National Security Agency. Access to the system is through a court issued login and password.

When can I register?

All attorneys admitted to practice in the Western District of Texas or attorneys allowed to appear pro hac vice are required to register. You may get your registration form from our website using this link CM/ECF E-Filing and E-Noticing Registration Form, or you may pick up a copy at your nearest Western District of Texas, U.S. District Clerk’s Office. (This is a large file, so it may take several minutes to download depending on your internet connection.)

Will electronic filing be mandatory?

Electronic filing of both civil and criminal documents will be mandatory unless the litigant can show cause to the court why e-filing will present a hardship. Non-prisoner pro se litigants will have the option to e-file, but this will not be mandatory.

Can I e-file case opening documents?

Complaints and Notice of Removal cases can be filed electronically. Please be prepared to submit on-line payment, as these documents require a filing fee.

What if I have a lengthy document, or documents stored in boxes?

Documents that exceed 200 pages or 10Mb must be traditionally filed.

Are certificates of service required for documents I e-file?

Yes, a certificate of service must be included with all filed documents reflecting that service on known Filing Users will be accomplished through the NEF and indicating the manner of service on any party who is not a Filing User. When you electronically file a document with the court, the court will send a notice of electronic filing (NEF) to all CM/ECF registered parties on the case.

How do I know who is registered with CM/ECF?

There are three mechanisms to see who on your case is registered with CM/ECF and will receive notice by the court:

  1. Docket Sheet: By viewing the docket sheet in PACER. Registered parties will have an email address listed.
  2. CM/ECF Utility: After you login to CM/ECF, the utility “mailings” is available to display who is and who is not registered in your case.
  3. NEF: The notice of electronic filing (NEF) will display who will and who will not receive notice from the court.
What can I e-file?
  1. Complaints
  2. Notice of Removal
  3. Answers
  4. Amended complaints that do not add parties
  5. Consents and non-consents to proceed before a U.S. Magistrate Judge
  6. Motions
  7. Responses and Replies
  8. Notices
  9. Returns of Service
  10. Trial-Related Documents
  11. ADR Documents
  12. Other Miscellaneous Documents
  13. Appeal Briefs
  14. Plea Related Documents
  15. Sealed documents in cases that are not sealed
  16. Ex parte documents in cases that are not sealed
  17. Plea Agreement
  18. Sealed Plea Agreement
  19. Notices of appeal
  20. Waivers
What can’t I e-file?
  1. All criminal case initiating documents
  2. All civil pleadings that add new parties
  3. Motions to intervene
  4. Motions to proceed amicus curiae
  5. Documentary exhibits submitted at trial
  6. Writs
  7. Vouchers for payment under the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3006A
  8. Transcript Orders (Forms DKT-13 and AO 435)
Will the clerk’s office still maintain a paper case file?

No, the clerk’s office does not maintain a paper case file except for sealed and prisoner cases. The electronic record will be the official record of the court.

How will I get noticed of activity by the court?

A notice of electronic filing (NEF) will be sent to all CM/ECF registered parties when the court files a document. Noticing via NEF will be mandatory for all litigants unless you can show cause to the court why this would present a hardship to you. Non-registered parties will receive the traditional paper notice via United States mail.

Can the general public view CM/ECF cases and the documents in those cases using the internet?

The public can access civil and criminal case documents in CM/ECF unless it has been sealed by the court. To have access to case dockets and electronic documents using the internet, you must have an account in the Public Access to Electronic Records (PACER) system.

Do I need both a PACER account and a CM/ECF account to be an e-filer?

Yes. The PACER account gives you the ability to read case dockets and view electronic images of documents. The CM/ECF account is needed in order to electronically file a document with the Court.

Can my firm have a single CM/ECF account, or do I have to have my own account?

CM/ECF accounts are issued only to individuals. You need your own account.

Can any member of the public use CM/ECF to file documents with the court?

No. Access to the filing portion of CM/ECF is available to registered users only.

When I click on the document link in my e-mail, it prompts me for a login and password. When I enter my CM/ECF login, it tells me my login failed. What do I do?

You need to enter your PACER login and password.

  1. The first time you click on a document link in your e-mail, the system should display the document without requiring a login. For each subsequent viewing, you will be required to log into PACER and pay a fee of $.10 per page, not to exceed $3.00 per document.
  2. In criminal cases, the first time you click on a document link in your e-mail, the system requires you to enter your CM/ECF login and password. Next, you need to enter your PACER login and password. You will not be charged the first time you view a criminal document. If you do not have a PACER login and password, contact the PACER Service Center at 1-800-676-6856.
  3. For civil Social Security cases, the first time you click on a document link in your e-mail, the system requires you to enter your CM/ECF login and password. Next, you need to enter your PACER login and password. You will not be charged the first time you view a document. If you do not have a PACER login and password, contact the PACER Service Center at 1-800-676-6856.

Criminal

What is an Indictment?

An indictment is a formal written accusation of a crime, made by a grand jury and presented to the court for prosecution against the accused person.

Is posting a bond required in a criminal case?

After a defendant has been charged with a crime, the Court may require a defendant to post bond to assure that the defendant will appear for trial. Bond is not required in all cases. If the Court determines a defendant will not flee and does not present a danger to persons in the community, the Court may order a defendant released without bond until trial. If, on the other hand, the Court determines a defendant may flee or endanger persons in the community before trial the Court may require the defendant to post bond for his release.

Where bond is required to assure a defendant’s appearance at trial, the Court is required under the Bail Reform Act to consider imposing the “least restrictive conditions” on a defendant that will assure that defendant’s appearance at trial and will protect the community. In determining whether to impose bond and the amount of bond, the Court will consider: the seriousness of the offense, the length of the potential sentence if the defendant is convicted, the defendant’s ties to the community, the danger to the community if the defendant is released, etc.

Why can’t my son/daughter have a bond?

All defendants are entitled to have the court consider setting conditions of release, which might include an appearance bond requirement. However, there are situations when the court finds, after considering the particulars of the case and the defendant’s prior history, that there are no conditions that could be imposed that provide reasonable assurance that the defendant would appear at future court settings and not endanger the community while awaiting trial. In these cases, the defendant is “detained” pending trial.

Will the Court appoint me an attorney?

If you have been formally charged with a crime and cannot afford to hire your own attorney, you have a Constitutional right to an attorney at government expense. A judge will review your financial situation and if you are found to be financially qualified, an attorney will be appointed to represent you. You may be required to reimburse the court for the costs associated with providing you with an attorney.

Financial

I was named as a victim in a criminal judgment, who can I contact regarding status of payments or to report an address change?

Victim inquiries may be e-mailed to Restitution Help Desk.

My friend or relative was arrested and charged with a crime in federal court in another city. Bond has been set and I would like to put up the money for the bond. Can I post his/her bond in the city in which I live?

As a general rule, cash bonds are normally posted in the United States District Court in the city in which the defendant’s bond was set. However, it is a matter of discretion for any District Court to receipt bond money for a bond set in another district. The Financial Department of the U.S. District Clerk’s Office in the District Court where you are seeking to deposit the bond money should be contacted for local procedures.

Do I pay with cash, check or money order?

Payment of cash bonds must be in the form of cashier’s check or money order payable to the Clerk, U.S. District Court. Personal checks and cash are not acceptable. Payments may not be made via wire transfer.

Can I post property or bank securities in lieu of cash?

Occasionally, at the discretion of the Judge imposing the bond, property or securities may be substituted for cash. However, local court rules as well as financial guidelines of the U.S. Courts must be followed when the substitution is granted. The defendant’s attorney should contact the Financial Department of the U.S. District Clerk’s Office for instructions prior to presenting the request to the Court.

May I file a surety bond in lieu of money?

Yes, if the Appearance Bond states that a surety bond is acceptable in lieu of money. You must obtain a surety bond from a certified company approved by the United States Treasury. A list of acceptable surety companies is accessible at the United States Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service’s website at: http://www.fms.treas.gov/c570/c570.html, or you can contact:

United States Department of the Treasury
Surety Bond Branch
3700 East West Hwy., Room 6A04
Hyattsville, MD 20782
(202) 874-6850

After the company is approved by the United States Treasury, the company is also required to file a Power of Attorney with this Court. A total of seven original Powers of Attorney are required in this District (one for each division) at a cost of $322.00. Please see the Fee Schedule.

How to become an Authorized (Certified) Surety and/or Reissuer of Federal Bonds?

Please visit the United States Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service’s website at: http://www.fms.treas.gov/c570/index.html.

Can my attorney post the bond?

An attorney may deliver the bond money to the U.S. District Clerk’s Office. If the money belongs to the defendant, the funds must be receipted in the defendant’s name. If the money belongs to another individual, the receipt will be issued under that person’s name. Under no circumstances can a cash bond be receipted to the attorney.

Will I get a receipt?

Yes. Receipts are issued for all monies paid into the court. You should keep the receipt in a safe place as the original receipt must be submitted to the Court before the funds are returned to the depositor.

Will I get my bond money back?

The return of bond money requires an order of the District Court. An application for return of cash bail, along with the original receipt, must be submitted. If the terms and conditions of the bond have not been met, the bond money may not be returned. Additionally, in certain situations, the U.S. Attorney can motion the Court to order that the bond money be used to offset any assessment, fine, restitution, or penalty imposed on the defendant. See 28 U.S.C. §2044. To receive more specific instructions, or to request a form Application for Return of Cash Bail, please contact the Financial Department of the U.S. District Clerk’s Office in the District Court where the bond was posted.

Can I petition the Court to assign the bond money I posted in a criminal case over to the defendant’s attorney or to another individual?

Assignment of bond funds to the defendant’s attorney or to another individual requires an order of the District Court. An application for assignment of cash bail must be submitted. The order for assignment of funds is separate and apart from the order for return of cash bail, so the application for assignment may be submitted any time after the bond is posted. However, the funds will not be considered available for disbursement before either a dismissal of the charges or the delivery of a criminal judgment in the case. At that time, an application for return of cash bail, along with the original receipt must be submitted. Return of the bond funds is subject to the terms of 28 U.S.C. §2044.

I was ordered to pay a special assessment, fine, restitution or other debt imposed in a criminal judgment. How do I submit payments?

If you are incarcerated (serving time in a jail or penitentiary): Payments toward your criminal debt may be deducted from your inmate account. Ask your case counselor for details.

If you are on probation: Your probation officer will provide instructions regarding how to submit your payments.

Should I deliver the payment in person or can I mail it?

  1. Paying in person: Your case counselor or probation officer will assist you in determining where your payments should be made. Usually, payments for criminal debt are made to the Clerk, U.S. District Court in the city where the judgment was imposed. Effective August 1, 2001, all payments made at any Clerk’s Office in the Western District of Texas must be made with a cashier’s check or money order.
  2. Paying by mail: If mailing a payment, please send only cashier’s checks or money orders. You should also include the following information:
    1. The case number,
    2. Type of payment (special assessment, fine, restitution, etc.), and,
    3. The name of the debtor (defendant).
I owe a special assessment, fine, restitution or other criminal debt to the United States Government. How do I find out what my criminal debt balance is?

If you are serving time in a jail, penitentiary or a halfway house, ask your counselor to submit a case payment history request to the Financial Department of the U.S. District Clerk’s Office in the city where the criminal judgment was entered.

If you are on probation, ask your probation officer to submit a case payment history request to the Financial Department of the U.S. District Clerk’s Office in the city where the criminal judgment was entered.

I am an inmate’s counselor or probation officer. How do I find out the criminal debt balance owed on an inmate or probationer’s criminal debt?

You should contact the Financial Department of the U.S. District Clerk’s Office in the city where the criminal judgment was entered. The financial deputy will instruct you how to submit your request for a case payment history.

Does the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas accept credit cards?

No.

What is the post judgment interest rate?

The interest rate for federal judgments is based on the average prices for U.S. Government Securities – Treasury Constant Maturities – 1 – Year. See 28 U.S.C. §1961, 18 U.S.C. §3612, and 40 U.S.C. §258(e)(1). If you need the most current rate, please call the Administrative Office of the United States Courts at (202) 502-4369 or call the divisional U.S. District Clerk’s Office.

A judge has ordered that funds be deposited into the registry of the U.S. District Clerk’s Office to satisfy a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order), Court Sanction, Interpleader Action, Land Condemnation Order, Criminal Judgment on Appeal, Civil Judgment on Appeal, or other matter. Are there special procedures to follow?

You can either deliver or mail the funds to the U.S. District Clerk’s Office. Include the case number and reason for the deposit. Payment must be in the form of cashier’s check or money order payable to the Clerk, U.S. District Court.

Personal or corporate checks and cash are not acceptable.

For more specific instructions, please contact the U.S. District Clerk’s Office in the city where the case is pending

Funds were invested in the registry of the court on my behalf or on my client’s behalf. A judgment has been entered and the case was closed. How do I get the money owed to me or to my client?

You must file a motion and submit a proposed order to withdraw funds from the registry of the court. On receipt of the signed order, the Financial Department of the U.S. District Clerk’s Office will disburse the funds. For more specific instructions, you may contact the U.S. District Clerk’s Office, Financial Department.

How do I get funds for a minor out of the Court’s registry?

The minor’s guardian must submit to the U.S. District Clerk’s Office a motion to withdraw funds, an original birth certificate, and a copy of a photo identification card. The U.S. District Clerk’s Office will then prepare an order to disburse funds for the appropriate judge to sign. On receipt of the signed order, the funds will be available for disbursement. For more specific instructions, you may contact the U.S. District Clerk’s Office, Financial Department.

Funds were invested on my behalf when I was a minor. I have now just turned eighteen. How can I receive these monies at this time?

For specific instructions, you should call the U.S. District Clerk’s Office, Financial Department.

General

Who are the judges presiding in the district?

We have a list of judges serving in our District.

Can I view the court/judges calendars on-line?

The Judge’s calendars are now located on-line on the Judges’ Calendars page.

Can I view court documents on-line?

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) offers the public the ability to query court dockets and other information through a dial-up or internet connection from a personal computer or terminal.

Please visit the PACER Service Center web site for more detailed information and to register.

You may also use the “Public Access Terminal” available in each division office. The same information available to you on PACER is also available with the terminal. There is no charge for using the Public Access Terminal and they are available for use during office hours.

Can I apply for a passport in the U.S. District Clerk’s Office?

No. Passport applications can be obtained at your local United States Post Office.

What are the copy fees?

The fee for copies through the U.S. District Clerk’s Office is $.50 per page. If a case file has been sent to the Federal Records Center, there is a retrieval fee of $64.00 for the first box and $39.00 each additional box, in addition to the $.50 per page copying fees. You may order the file from the U.S. District Clerk’s Office either in person or by mail. The retrieval fee must be payable in advance to the U.S. District Clerk’s Office. Please provide the complete case number and any other information you may have to ensure proper file retrieval. You will be notified when the file is available in the U.S. District Clerk’s Office for viewing or of the appropriate copying fees for the documents requested.

To whom do we make checks payable?

Checks are to be made payable to “Clerk, U.S. District Court.”

Can I download frequently used forms?

List of available forms can be found on our Forms Page.

NOTE: To download a form, put your mouse on the hyperlink for the form you want and click with your RIGHT mouse button. On most browsers a menu will appear. Choose save and give the file a name on your local PC. (If this does not work with your browser, check your browser’s manual for instructions on saving).

PDF format keeps the documents in their original form and font. Any computer with a PDF viewer can pull up a document and it will look (and print) the same as the original.
You will need an Adobe Acrobat Reader to view or print the PDF version of a form. A free Acrobat reader and instructions are available from Adobe.

May I get one page of a multi-page document certified?

No. The District Court may only certify an entire document.

Can I file a pleading by fax?

No. We do not accept fax filings.

Where can I get information concerning traffic tickets and violations on federal property such as military bases or national parks?

Our Central Violations Bureau page may have the information you are looking for.

What are the divisional offices and counties within the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas?

The Western District of Texas consists of 7 divisional offices. Details on each divisional office and the counties served can be found by clicking the listings below:

Austin
Del Rio
El Paso
Midland-Odessa
Pecos
San Antonio
Waco

Jury

How do I respond to the Juror Information Form and Supplemental Questionnaire I just received?

You may respond to the Juror Information Form and Supplemental Questionnaire you just received. This questionnaire is intended to determine if you are qualified for jury service (it is not a summons). Once you complete this questionnaire online, you do not have to mail in the hard copy that was mailed to you.

How do I respond to the Summons I just received?

You may respond to the jury summons you just received. This will enable you to complete your juror information form and supplemental questionnaire. Once you complete both online, you do not have to mail in the hard copies that were included in your summons.

How do I check my Reporting Instructions?

You may access your reporting instructions. These same reporting instructions can be accessed by calling: 1-888-587-9329 or 1-210-472-4912. Check your summons handout to reference when you are instructed to check your reporting instructions.

How do I submit an Excuse Request?

You may submit an excuse request or postponement. Please note that only summoned jurors can submit an excuse request. Also, you must complete your juror information form and the supplemental questionnaire before an excuse request can be submitted.

Jury Questionnaire

I live at a different address then the one listed on the questionnaire. What do I do?

Cross out the old address and print the current address next to it. If you will be moving, please complete the form and send it in. Once you move, notify us by letter and provide us with your new address. Your letter should be addressed to:

Jury Administrator
Executive Offices of the Clerk
Western District of Texas
727 East Cesar Chavez Boulevard, Suite 500
San Antonio, Texas 78206

When will I be called to serve?

If you are found qualified, your jury service could occur between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2019.

My son/daughter is overseas and serving in the military. They are unable to complete this survey.

An exemption is available for individuals who are in active service of the armed forces. The third item on question 9 addresses our active armed services members. Check the appropriate box that applies to your situation. A family member can sign and date the questionnaire on behalf of their family member. Please note your relationship to this family member (e.g. father, mother and etc.).

What should I do, if the person is unavailable or unable to complete form?

A family member or guardian can complete the form. You can sign your name and identify the relationship to the person and why you are completing the form.

How was my name chosen?

In our district we utilize the voters registration list that is supplied to us by the State of Texas. Every two years we build a listing of qualified individuals that may be selected to serve as jurors. This questionnaire allows us to determine if someone is qualified to serve.

The letter states that I have 10 days to complete and return this form. It has been more then 10 days, what do I do?

That is fine, please return the questionnaire to us as soon as possible.

Do I have to complete this form? Can you just exempt or disqualify me over the phone and update your system?

Unfortunately, we are unable to update your qualifications status over the phone. The questionnaire serve as documentation to a person’s qualification status.

The questionnaire is addressed to a deceased family member. What do I do?

Please print deceased next to the name and address that is listed on the questionnaire. Sign and date the questionnaire and note your relationship to the deceased person.

Please note, any correspondence to us should include:

Full Name
Address
Juror Number (which is listed above address)
Date of Birth

Where will I serve as a juror?

Below is a listing of counties in the Western District of Texas. The county that you reside in will determine which courthouse location you will perform your jury service.

Austin
Bastrop, Blanco, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Gillespie, Hays, Kimble, Lampasas, Lee, Llano, Mason, McCulloch, San Saba, Travis, Washington, and Williamson

Del Rio
Edwards, Kinney, Maverick, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Zavalla

El Paso
El Paso, Hudspeth

Midland-Odessa
Andrews, Crane, Ector, Martin, Midland, and Upton

Pecos
Brewster, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Winkler, and Ward

San Antonio
Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Dimmit, Frio, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Medina, Real and Wilson

Waco
Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Leon, Limestone, McLennan, Milam, Robertson, and Somervell

Jury Service

How was I selected?

A random selection of names of prospective jurors to serve on grand and petit juries is drawn from the General Election Voter Registration Lists (“voter registration lists”) of the counties comprising each division. These randomly drawn names make up the Master Jury Wheel. Another randomized selection is performed for purposes of determining qualification for jury service. These prospective jurors are sent qualification questionnaire forms in order to determine their qualification for jury service. Individuals that are deemed qualified for jury service make up the Qualified Jury Wheel. A random selection of names is drawn from this Qualified Jury Wheel in order to summon individuals for jury service.

What fees are paid to jurors for service?

Jurors are paid $40.00 per day attendance fee (with the exception of Federal Government employees). You will also be paid a round trip mileage fee from your residence. Payment of parking fees varies by division office. See the local jury instructions for specifics for the courthouse you will be serving jury duty in. If a juror travels more than 70 miles, one-way, that person has the option to stay at a hotel/motel with reimbursement according to the fee schedule for the division they will be serving jury duty in. Jurors can call for the information. Hotel receipts will be required.

How long does jury service last?

Jury panels serve the courts on an “on call” basis. The length of service for each jury panel differs by division. Upon receipt of the jury information packet, you will be advised of your term of service.

Jurors are given a telephone number to be used during their term of service as prospective jurors. Each juror is assigned a panel number and a unique juror number. Because the jury dockets are constantly changing, each person summoned for jury service is instructed to call the jury information line or access the jury instructions on this website for confirmation of attendance.

Can I be excused from jury service?

The only person authorized to excuse, exclude, exempt or disqualify a juror from jury service in federal court is the Judge. Federal law allowing the granting of excuses is very strict. All requests for excuses and postponements are submitted in writing to the Office of the Clerk, Attention: Jury Clerk. All excuses based on medical conditions must be accompanied by a letter from your physician stating why you are unable to attend. Upon receipt of these requests, the jury clerk logs them in and routes them to the Judge for a ruling. This office will notify you either by telephone or letter immediately upon receipt of the Judge’s reply to your request. It is important to submit the written request for excuses and postponements as early as possible. A juror should not assume a request will be granted. An unexcused absence may result in a charge of contempt of Court and a subsequent fine and/or imprisonment.

Is there a dress code that must be followed while on jury service?

Yes, specific dress codes are set by each judge. See the local jury instructions for details.

What security issues do I have to be aware of?

Due to increased security at all Federal Courthouses and buildings, it will be necessary for you to pass through a metal detector as you enter the court facility. Your purses, bags, and briefcases will be x-rayed at the same time. To expedite your entrance, it is recommended that you wear as little jewelry as possible and leave any excess metal at home. The following list includes some items that are not allowed into the courthouse:

  1. Cameras
  2. Mace/Stun Guns
  3. Tape Recorders
  4. Aerosol Cans (e.g. Hair Spray)
  5. Knives (including pocket knives and metal nail files)
  6. All Firearms or dangerous weapons *
    * 18 USC. Sec. 930, “It is illegal to possess Firearms and Dangerous Weapons in Federal Facilities.”

The use of cell phones in the courthouse varies from division to division. See local jury instructions for further information.

What might happen if I don’t show up for jury service?

Jurors who fail to report for jury duty and who have not been excused by the Court may be served a Show Cause Order by a Deputy United States Marshal. Those jurors will be ordered to appear before the Court to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of the Jury Service and Selection Act. Contempt penalties range from a $1,000.00 fine, imprisoned not more than three (3) days, ordered to perform community service, or any combination thereof.

Is my job protected if I serve as a juror?

You are protected by Federal Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1875. No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any permanent employee by reason of such employee’s jury service, or the attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with such service, in any court of the United States.

I live at a different address then the one listed on the questionnaire. What do I do?

Cross out the old address and print the current address next to it. If you will be moving, please complete the form and send it in. Once you move, notify us by letter and provide us with your new address. Your letter should be addressed to:

Jury Administrator
Executive Offices of the Clerk
Western District of Texas
727 East Cesar Chavez Boulevard, Suite 500
San Antonio, Texas 78206

When will I be called to serve?

If you are found qualified, your jury service could occur between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2019.

Do I have to complete the Juror Qualification Questionnaire form? Can you just exempt or disqualify me over the phone and update your system?

Unfortunately, we are unable to update your qualification status over the phone. The questionnaire serves as documentation for a person’s qualification status.

My son/daughter is overseas and serving in the military. They are unable to complete this survey.

An exemption is available for individuals who are in active service of the armed forces. The third item on question 9 addresses our active armed services members. Check the appropriate box that applies to your situation. A family member can sign and date the questionnaire on behalf of their family member. Please note your relationship to this family member (e.g. father, mother and etc.).

PACER

When I click on the document link in my e-mail, it prompts me for a login and password. When I enter my CM/ECF login, it tells me my login failed. What do I do?

You need to enter your PACER login and password.

  1. The first time you click on a document link in your e-mail, the system should display the document without requiring a login. For each subsequent viewing, you will be required to log into PACER and pay a fee of $.10 per page, not to exceed $3.00 per document.
  2. In criminal cases, the first time you click on a document link in your e-mail, the system requires you to enter your CM/ECF login and password. Next, you need to enter your PACER login and password. You will not be charged the first time you view a criminal document. If you do not have a PACER login and password, contact the PACER Service Center at 1-800-676-6856.
  3. For civil Social Security cases, the first time you click on a document link in your e-mail, the system requires you to enter your CM/ECF login and password. Next, you need to enter your PACER login and password. You will not be charged the first time you view a document. If you do not have a PACER login and password, contact the PACER Service Center at 1-800-676-6856.
Can the general public view CM/ECF cases and the documents in those cases using the internet?

The public can access civil case data in CM/ECF unless it has been sealed by the court. Access over the internet to documents filed in criminal cases is limited to case participants, i.e., attorneys and defendants. To have access to case dockets and electronic documents using the internet, you must have an account in the Public Access to Electronic Records (PACER) system.

Do I need both a PACER account and a CM/ECF account to be an e-filer?

Yes. The PACER account gives you the ability to read case dockets and view electronic images of documents. The CM/ECF account is needed in order to electronically file a document with the Court.