Can I file a pleading by fax?
No. We do not accept fax filings.
What are the requirements for the filing of a civil lawsuit?
A civil action is commenced by filing the following:
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. Civil Cover Sheet
Requirements: File the original plus one copy.
Requirements: File the original plus one for each party to be served. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4.
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. Filing Fee
Requirements: There is a filing fee for most types of civil lawsuits. See Fee Schedule
page 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. 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?
If you cannot afford an attorney, you may file a written motion asking the court to appoint an attorney for you. This written motion is called a “Motion for Appointment of Counsel.” (See Pro Se Manual for form). This motion will provide the court information about your financial status, your attempts to find a lawyer, and any other information you would like the court to consider in determining whether a lawyer should be appointed for you.
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.
Travis County Bar Association
700 Lavaca, Suite 602
Austin, Texas 78701
Legal Aid of Central Texas
2201 Post Road, Suite 104
Austin, Texas 78704
El Paso Bar Association
500 E. San Antonio, Room L-115
El Paso, Texas 79901
El Paso Legal Assistance Society
1301 N. Oregon
El Paso, Texas 79901
San Antonio Bar Association
Bexar County Courthouse, 5th Floor
San Antonio, Texas 78205
Bexar County Legal Aid Association Inc.
434 South Main Avenue, Suite 300
San Antonio, Texas 78204
Heart of Texas Legal Services Corp.
900 Austin Avenue, 7th Floor
P.O. Box 527
Waco, Texas 76703
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?
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.