Rules of the Court
Rule One: Authority
1.1 Authority for Rules
Under the inherent power and duty of all Texas courts as codified in Section 21.001 of the Texas Government Code, the following Local Rules of the Municipal Court of the City of Crowley, Texas (hereinafter “Local Rules”) are promulgated and shall apply and govern any and all proceedings held within any Municipal Court of the City of Crowley, Tarrant County, Texas. These rules are adopted for the purpose of securing uniformity in those proceedings and in order to promote justice.
The Local Rules apply to attorneys and their staff members, to each Defendant representing himself/herself (hereinafter “Pro se Defendants”), to all court staff, to witnesses and observers. A Judge may promulgate additional rules for his/her Court which do not conflict with the rules and applicable law. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the imposition of sanctions, including contempt.
1.3 Effective Date
These Local Rules are effective on April 25, 2018 and supersede all previous Local Rules of the Crowley Municipal Court.
A copy of these Local Rules shall be available in the courtroom and on the City of Crowley website, which can be accessed at www.ci.crowley.tx.us.
1.5 Citation of These Rules
These Local Rules shall be known as the Local Rules of the Municipal Court of the City of Crowley, Texas and each rule may be cited as “Crowley Local Rule ___” or “CLR ____”.
1.6 Authority of Municipal Court Judges
The Municipal Court of the City of Crowley is one Court, in one location, and referred to as a “Court”. Each Judge, whether a Presiding Judge or Substitute Judge sitting for the Presiding Judge, has all authority within the Court in which he/she is sitting and in Crowley in general as does any Municipal Judge of a Court of Record in the State of Texas. Each Municipal Judge, whether Presiding or Substitute, is also a Magistrate for every county into which the City of Crowley extends and has all authority as a Magistrate in any of those counties as set forth in State law.
1.7 Hours of Operation
The hours of operation of the Court shall be posted on the front doors, and on the City of Crowley website at www.ci.crowley.tx.us. Any exception to said hours shall be for City observed holidays or as determined by order of the Clerk of the Court/Court Administrator, or the City Manager.
Rule Two: Courtroom Decorum
2.1 Formal Opening
Each session of the Court shall be brought to order by formal announcement by the Bailiff of the Court, requiring all present in the Courtroom to rise as the Judge takes the Bench. The Bailiff shall remain in the Courtroom at all times while the Court is in session.
2.2 Conduct Required of All Persons Attending Court
Court is in session whenever the Judge is on the Bench. While the Court is in session, unless the Judge directs otherwise the following conduct must be observed:
• No smoking or use of tobacco products, including snuff or chewing tobacco.
• No reading of any materials, other than court documents, including books, magazines or newspapers and any electronic forms of such materials.
• No propping feet or sitting on tables, railings or the backs of benches or chairs.
• No loud noises. Any children brought into the Courtroom must be quiet or they must be removed from the Courtroom.
• No eating, drinking or gum chewing.
• No standing in the Courtroom, except when addressing the Court or by direction of the Judge or when necessitated by the business of the Court.
• No gestures, facial expressions or sounds indicating approval or disapproval of a ruling by the Court or a comment on testimony of a witness.
• All persons, whether lawyers, parties, witnesses, jurors, or spectators, conducting business, participating in trials, or otherwise attending proceedings in a Courtroom of the Municipal Court of the City of Crowley, Texas, shall be dressed appropriately so as to maintain the dignity, integrity, decorum, seriousness and professional atmosphere of the Court and the administration of justice. As such, no inappropriate attire, including short shorts, tank tops, sleeveless shirts, jeans with holes or cut-outs, low pants with underwear showing or inappropriate “message” shirts, or sunglasses shall be allowed. No hats or head coverings including scarves, bandanas or do-rags shall be worn in the Courtroom, unless such item is of a religious nature or for medical reasons.
• No unattended children in the Courtroom. Children under the age of 8 and children 8 and older, who cannot sit alone, cannot be brought to the Courtroom without an adult or older responsible child, who can accompany them out of the Courtroom, if necessary. • No person shall bring radios, tape recorders, computers, tablets, cameras, cell phones, or other electronic devices into the courtroom.
• Filming, photographing or recording of proceedings held in open court while court is in session is strictly prohibited.
• Filming, photographing or recording jurors or alternate jurors in the Courtroom or in the jury deliberation room is strictly prohibited.
• Absolutely no weapons shall be brought into the Courtroom, with the exception of those intended to be offered as evidence. Commissioned peace officers may bring weapons in the Courtroom. The Judge shall have the discretion to have any object removed from the Courtroom.
2.3 Entry into Courtroom and Prohibited Items in Court
All persons and items are subject to search before being allowed entrance into the Courtroom. The following items are prohibited from being in the Courtroom:
• Video Cameras
• Photo Cameras
• Audio Recorders
• Cell Phones
• Computers / Tablets
• Aerosol Sprays
• Razor Blades
• Glass Items
• Forks, Spoons, etc.
• Handcuffs/Handcuff Keys (unless carried by a Commissioned Peace Officer)
• Knitting Needles
• Heavy Chain Items
• Nails, Screws, etc.
• Mace/Pepper Spray
• Non-Court related materials
2.4 Conduct Required of all Attorneys and Pro se Defendants
Attorneys shall observe both the letter and the spirit of all Canons of Ethics and the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, including those Canons concerning improper ex parte communication with the Judge and those dealing with discussion of cases with representatives of the media. In addition;
• Attorneys shall advise their clients and witnesses of all of the Local Rules that may be applicable, and shall ensure that their clients and witnesses follow and fully adhere to all such rules.
• Pro se Defendants (Defendants acting on their own behalf) shall conform their behavior to all provisions of the Canons of Ethics applicable to a licensed Attorney. Pro se Defendants shall not attempt to converse with the Judge about their cases unless the prosecuting attorney is present.
• Attorneys and Pro se Defendants shall be dressed appropriately while in the Courtroom.
• All parties shall be prompt in arriving for Court and attending to Court business. Attorneys, Defendants represented by Attorneys and Pro se Defendants shall be on time and if the Attorney is required to be in another Court, he/she shall notify the Court Clerk that he/she anticipates being tardy specifying where the Attorney is and when he/she anticipates being present. Any Attorney with such a conflict shall notify the Court at least 24 hours before the court setting, unless the delay could not be anticipated.
• Failure of a represented Defendant or Pro se Defendant to appear as scheduled may result in a warrant being issued. An Attorney who fails to appear timely may be subject to sanctions, up to and including contempt.
• Once an individual has entered the Courtroom and appeared before the Court, whether Defendant, Attorney or witness, he/she shall not leave the Courtroom without obtaining permission from the Judge.
• During trial or any hearing, any objections, arguments and comments shall be directed to the Judge and not to opposing counsel or to Pro se Defendants. Any objections which have been raised during a hearing or trial shall be supported by a legal basis for such objection.
• During trial or any hearing, all participants in the proceedings shall address each other and members of the Jury, if any, without familiarity. The use of first names shall be avoided. While addressing the Court, Attorneys and Pro se Defendants shall rise and remain standing at their position at the counsel table unless directed otherwise by the Judge.
• During trial or any hearing, Attorneys and Pro se Defendants shall not approach the Bench except after requesting and receiving permission from the Judge or as directed by the Judge. 2.5 The Media The media will not be allowed to record any court proceedings inside the Courtroom.
Rule Three: Appearance, Bonds and Pleas
An Attorney must make an appearance in a case in writing filed with the Clerk of the Court via regular mail, electronic mail, or in person at the Clerk window.
3.2 Bond Required
For anyone with an active arrest warrant, the Attorney shall be required to post a surety bond and a Pro se Defendant shall be required to post a personal appearance bond before further action can be taken in the case.
3.3 Plea by Defendant
An appearance in writing or in person must be made with the Clerk of the Court within eleven (11) days following the issuance of the citation. Payment in full of a case shall constitute a guilty/no contest plea. No partial payments shall be accepted without a plea entered in person. A timely plea of not guilty by a Pro se Defendant will result in a pre-trial setting at which time the Defendant shall inform the court whether he/she desires a jury trial or a bench trial (a trial without a jury). The date of the postmark shall be deemed the date of filing of any appearance / plea received by mail. The date of receipt of a FAX by the Clerk’s office shall be the date of filing of such an appearance / plea.
3.4 Requests for Assistance
A party desiring the services of an interpreter should make the request as soon as possible. The request for an interpreter should be made in writing in the case of a written appearance / plea, at the court window, or in open court when appearing in person. Requests for assistance from persons with disabilities should be made at the time the plea is entered.
Rule Four: Notice
It is the responsibility of all persons with business before the Court to: a. determine the date, time, location and nature of each setting of the case(s) and, b. update or notify the Court of any changes of address of the Defendant or of Counsel for the Defendant.
4.2 Notice Notice of the date, time, location and nature of each setting shall be given by the Court to a Pro se Defendant in person or by mail at the last known address. Notice of the date, time, location and nature of each setting shall be given by the Court to Counsel for Defendants in person, by mail, by email or report directed to the last known address of the Attorney.
4.3 Verbal Representations
Reliance by any party upon verbal representations from any court staff or a police officer concerning any matters shall not be binding as grounds for continuance, setting aside a warrant or judgment, dismissal of any case or any other relief.
A copy of the Complaint will be made available to the Defendant or Counsel at the pre-trial hearing, or upon request.
Rule Five: Motions
5.1 Motions for Continuance
Motions for Continuance require good cause shown and will not be granted for delay purposes. A Motion for Continuance shall be filed with the Court as soon as the Attorney for the Defendant or the State or pro se Defendant is aware of the necessity for seeking a continuance. An Attorney seeking a continuance from an Attorney Plea Docket shall contact the Court to determine if there is another time that he/she could be present to process the Plea Docket before the scheduled date, in lieu of asking that cases be reset.
Continuances are governed by Chapter 29 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. This Rule 5.1 is intended to supplement and not to replace the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
• All Motions for Continuance shall be in writing and shall be filed with the Court Clerk in which the case is set at least five (5) working days prior to the scheduled court date.
• Each Motion for Continuance shall contain:
• The Cause Number;
• The name of the Defendant;
• The date and time of the setting for which the continuance is sought;
• The specific facts justifying the continuance. If the reason for the continuance is a conflict with a setting in another court, the Motion shall contain the Style and Cause Number of the other case, as well as the Court Number and time of the conflict;
• A certificate of conference indicating the agreement or disagreement of the opposing party;
• An oath attesting to the truth of the matters contained in the Motion; and
• A proposed order for the Judge to designate whether the motion is “Granted” or “Denied.”
5.1.3 Emergency Motions
Where the underlying facts (good cause) which form the basis for a Motion for Continuance were not discovered and could not have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence, an emergency Motion for Continuance may be filed. Such Motion may be filed at any time prior to the respective Court proceeding and will be ruled on by the Judge at the call of the docket.
With the exception of continuances sought on Constitutional or Statutory grounds, the following factors will be considered in the determining whether the Motion shall be granted or denied:
• The specific nature of the conflict in scheduling;
• The age of the case;
• The number of previous continuances granted to each party;
• The timeliness of the filing of the Motion, including the date on which the scheduling conflict, if any, became known to the Movant; and
• Any other matter relevant to the Motion.
A Motion for Continuance shall be presented to the Court. In all cases, the ruling on a Motion for Continuance shall be at the discretion of the Judge.
5.1.6 Denied Motions
If a Defendant’s Motion for Continuance is denied, in order for the Defendant to avoid a warrant, a bond in the amount set by the Court may be required to be posted, at the discretion of the Judge denying the Motion. It is the responsibility of the Pro se Defendant or the Counsel for Defendant to determine whether the Motion was granted or denied and to determine whether a bond is required. If a State’s Motion for Continuance is denied, the case will proceed to trial, plea or other disposition.
5.2 Vacation Letters
Attorneys shall file a vacation letter no less than 60 days prior to the anticipated date that the vacation is to begin. Such notices shall be filed at the court window at the 201 East Main St., by fax, by electronic mail, or regular mail. If the vacation letter is not filed at least 60 days prior to the vacation commencement date, the Attorney shall file Motions for Continuance in each case set during the vacation period for the Judge to consider.
5.3 Motions to Withdraw
Any Attorney who makes an appearance on behalf of a Defendant shall continue to be considered by the Court as the Attorney of record for that Defendant until a written Motion to Withdraw is filed by that Attorney and is granted by the Court, or the case is disposed of by trial, plea, deferred disposition, drivera safety course is granted, dismissal or substitution of counsel.
5.3.1 Withdrawal without a Hearing
A Motion to Withdraw as Counsel for Defendant may be granted without a hearing only if the moving Attorney files a verified certificate stating the last known mailing address of the Defendant and describes what efforts have been made to locate the Defendant, or if Counsel files along with the Motion a written consent to the withdrawal signed by the client which consent acknowledges that the Defendant has been advised of all future court settings.
5.3.2 Withdrawal with a Hearing
If the requirements of Rule 5.3.1 are not satisfied, a Motion to Withdraw must be presented to the Court at a hearing after notice to the Defendant and to all other parties.
5.3.3 Substitution of Counsel
A Motion to Substitute Counsel shall be signed by the Attorney who currently represents the Defendant as well as the attorney who wishes to undertake representation of the Defendant. The Motion must include an affirmative statement that the Defendant has consented to the substitution. If a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel for Defendant also contains a Motion to Substitute Counsel and a Notice of Appearance by another Attorney, and a written agreement by the State, that appearance will satisfy the requirements of Rule 5.3.1 and the Attorney named in the Motion to Substitute will thereafter be considered by the court as Attorney of record for the Defendant.
5.3.4 Affidavit of Intent to Surrender and Affidavit of Surrender
Any attorney wishing to be removed from the bond of a Defendant shall file the appropriate Affidavit under either Article 17.19 CCP (for Defendants who are not incarcerated) or Article 17.16 CCP (for Defendants who are incarcerated). Such Affidavit may be presented at any time prior to or at a setting of the case.
5.3.5 Motions for Discovery, Pre-trial, Trial and Post-Trial Motions
All other Motions shall be filed with the Clerk of the Court. All pre-trial motions shall be filed at least 14 days prior to trial date and responses thereto, if any, shall be filed at least 7 days prior to trial date. If a pretrial Motion has not been ruled on before trial date, such Motion shall be heard on the date of trial. Each Motion or Response shall contain a certificate of service signed by the Movant or Respondent indicating that a copy of such Motion or Response has been served upon the opposing party, the manner of service and the date of service.
Rule Six: Off-Docket Procedures
6.1 Off-Docket Motions
An off-docket motion is any motion filed in a case not set on docket.
Rule Seven: Juvenile Proceedings and Minors
7.1 Juvenile Defined
A juvenile is a Defendant who is at least 10 years of age and is younger than 17 years of age.
7.2 Entering a Plea
A juvenile must enter his/her plea in open court with a parent or guardian present.
7.3 Notice of Current Address
The parents and the juvenile have a continuing obligation to given written notice of their current address and any change of address.
7.4 Minor in Possession and other Alcoholic Beverage Code Violations
A minor (anyone under the age of 21 years at the time of the alleged violation) may only enter a plea to an Alcohol Beverage Code violation in open court.
Rule Eight: Post-Trial Proceedings
8.1 Admonishment Pro se
Defendants are admonished, due to the inherent complexities of appellate law, to seriously consider retaining counsel to represent them on appeal.
8.2 Inability to Pay Fine
If a Defendant does not appeal the Court’s decision, but claims indigency, the Defendant may request an indigency hearing. At that hearing Defendant shall be required to show cause why he/she cannot discharge the fine by making payments or performing community service hours in lieu of payment.
8.3 Indigency Upon Appeal
If a Defendant is indigent and unable to pay either the Appeal Bond or to pay for the transcript, he/she may file an Affidavit of Indigency with the Court and file a Motion to Waive Costs on forms approve by the Court. Such Affidavit of Indigency and/or Motion to Waive Costs must be filed within the ten (10) day statutory period to file an appeal Bond. A hearing on the Motion to Waive Costs shall then be scheduled by the Judge who entered the Order being appealed, unless that Judge is no longer available.
Rule Nine: Severability, Construction and Enforcement
If any provision of these Rules or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid or unconstitutional, such invalidity or unconstitutionality shall not affect other provisions or application of these Rules, which can be given effect without the invalid or unconstitutional provision or application, and to this end the provisions of the Rules are severable.
9.2 Inapplicability to Civil Cases
The Rules set forth herein are the Local Rules of Court applicable to criminal proceedings, and are not applicable to the civil cases and administrative hearings heard in the Crowley Municipal Court with the exception of Rule Two, Courtroom Decorum.
These Rules shall not be construed so as to enlarge, diminish, modify or alter the jurisdiction, power or authority of the Municipal Court of the City of Crowley.
In any proceeding to which they apply, these rules shall have the force and effect of a judicial order and may be enforced by the court as allowed by law.