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TEXAS SUPREME COURT CORONAVIRUS UPDATE
Clarifies that the latest order is for statute-of-limitations deadlines
All service and statute-of-limitations deadlines have been delayed in civil cases from March 13 until June 1 unless the chief justice extends it, under a Texas Supreme Court order issued Wednesday, April 1.
The tolling does not affect deadlines for filing appeals or other appellate proceedings, but the order notes that requests for any such relief should be “generously granted” by the particular court.
The order amends the third paragraph of the first order, addressing problems raised by the sweeping coronavirus pandemic, and removes discretionary language on limitations. In a letter to the Court last week, nine bar association and section leaders requested the mandatory language.
“The use of the term ‘may’ leaves courts, the bar, and parties with no understanding of how to address the potentially dispositive issue of limitations that are arising while the nation is in this moment of unprecedented crisis,” the letter stated. “The practical effect of the language suggests there could be various application or enforcement of statute of limitations for cases filed in Dallas County as opposed to filed in Williamson County, effectively allowing different rules for all 254 counties.”
► Bar exam. The Board of Law Examiners continues to prepare to offer the Texas bar examination in July and will postpone it to comply with state and national directives for protection of the health and safety of those who take the exam and examination staff, according to the board’s executive director, Susan Henricks. Any decision to postpone the July examination will be made in consultation with the Court and no later than May 5. If the examination is postponed, it would be postponed to September 29-October 1, 2020, at venues to be determined.
Other orders so far:
The first (jointly issued with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals): clears the way for video- and teleconference proceedings and to postpone certain deadlines affecting cases.
The second: orders that child-custody schedules following school calendars shall follow the original school schedule as published despite school closings.
The third (amending the first emergency and jointly issued with the Court of Criminal Appeals): establishes court proceedings may be conducted “away from the court’s usual location with reasonable notice and access to the participants and the public,” eliminating the venue limitation to allow a judge assigned to an involuntary-quarantine challenge to preside from afar.
The fourth: addressing hearings, trials and other proceedings and deadlines for residential-property evictions.
The fifth: delaying all deadlines in attorney professional-disciplinary and disability proceedings until May 8.
The sixth: ordering certain State Bar elections only by electronic balloting.
The seventh: existing court orders in child-possession cases shall control “in all instances” to determine rights to and access to children, regardless of so-called shelter-in-place mandates or other restriction on movement
The eighth: delays limitations in civil cases from March 13 until June 1, subject to extension.