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Rule 21. Filing and Serving Pleadings and Motions (2015)


(a) Filing and Service Required. Every pleading, plea, motion, or application to the court for an order, whether in the form of a motion, plea, or other form of request, unless presented during a hearing or trial, must be filed with the clerk of the court in writing, must state the grounds therefor, must set forth the relief or order sought, and at the same time a true copy must be served on all other parties, and must be noted on the docket.
(b) Service of Notice of Hearing. An application to the court for an order and notice of any hearing thereon, not presented during a hearing or trial, must be served upon all other parties not less than three days before the time specified for the hearing, unless otherwise provided by these rules or shortened by the court.
(c) Multiple Parties. If there is more than one other party represented by different attorneys, one copy of each pleading must be served on each attorney in charge.
(d) Certificate of Service. The party or attorney of record, must certify to the court compliance with this rule in writing over signature on the filed pleading, plea, motion, or application.
(e) Additional Copies. After one copy is served on a party, that party may obtain another copy of the same pleading upon tendering reasonable payment for copying and delivering.
(f) Electronic Filing.

(1) Requirement. Except in juvenile cases under Title 3 of the Family Code, and truancy cases under Title 3A of the Family Code, attorneys must electronically file documents in courts where electronic filing has been mandated. Attorneys practicing in courts where electronic filing is available but not mandated and unrepresented parties may electronically file documents, but it is not required.
(2) Email Address. The email address of an attorney or unrepresented party who electronically files a document must be included on the document.
(3) Mechanism. Electronic filing must be done through the electronic filing manager established by the Office of Court Administration and an electronic filing service provider certified by the Office of Court Administration.
(4) Exceptions.
(A) Wills are not required to be filed electronically.
(B) The following documents must not be filed electronically:
(i) documents filed under seal or presented to the court in camera; and
(ii) documents to which access is otherwise restricted by law or court order.
(C) For good cause, a court may permit a party to file other documents in paper form in a particular case.
(5) Timely Filing. Unless a document must be filed by a certain time of day, a document is considered timely filed if it is electronically filed at any time before midnight (in the court's time zone) on the filing deadline. An electronically filed document is deemed filed when transmitted to the filing party's electronic filing service provider, except:
(A) if a document is transmitted on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, it is deemed filed on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday; and
(B) if a document requires a motion and an order allowing its filing, the document is deemed filed on the date that the motion is granted.
(6) Technical Failure. If a document is untimely due to a technical failure or a system outage, the filing party may seek appropriate relief from the court. If the missed deadline is one imposed by these rules, the filing party must be given a reasonable extension of time to complete the filing.
(7) Electronic Signatures. A document that is electronically served, filed, or issued by a court or clerk is considered signed if the document includes:
(A) a "/s/" and name typed in the space where the signature would otherwise appear, unless the document is notarized or sworn; or
(B) an electronic image or scanned image of the signature.
(8) Format. An electronically filed document must:
(A) be in text-searchable portable document format (PDF);
(B) be directly converted to PDF rather than scanned, if possible;
(C) not be locked; and
(D) otherwise comply with the Technology Standards set by the Judicial Committee on Information Technology and approved by the Supreme Court.
(9) Paper Copies. Unless required by local rule, a party need not file a paper copy of an electronically filed document.
(10) Electronic Notices From the Court. The clerk may send notices, orders, or other communications about the case to the party electronically. A court seal may be electronic.
(11) Non-Conforming Documents. The clerk may not refuse to file a document that fails to conform with this rule. But the clerk may identify the error to be corrected and state a deadline for the party to resubmit the document in a conforming format.
(12) Original Wills. When a party electronically files an application to probate a document as an original will, the original will must be filed with the clerk within three business days after the application is filed.
(13) Official Record. The clerk may designate an electronically filed document or a scanned paper document as the official court record. The clerk is not required to keep both paper and electronic versions of the same document unless otherwise required by local rule. But the clerk must retain an original will filed for probate in a numbered file folder.

Amended by order of Aug. 28, 2015, eff. Sept. 1, 2015.

2015 change: Rule 21 exempts from the civil electronic-filing mandate for district and county courts "juvenile cases under Title 3 of the Family Code." To clarify that documents in truancy cases are not required to be filed electronically, the Court amends Rule 21 as shown in the order - Misc. Docket No. 15-9155.

Comment to 2013 Change: Rule 21 is revised to incorporate rules for electronic filing, in accordance with the Supreme Court's order - Misc. Docket No. 12-9206, amended by Misc. Docket Nos. 13-9092 and 13-9164 - mandating electronic filing in civil cases beginning on January 1, 2014. The mandate will be implemented according to the schedule in the order and will be completed by July 1, 2016. The revisions reflect the fact that the mandate will only apply to a subset of Texas courts until that date.

Prior Amendments Future Amendments
Oct. 29, 1940, eff. Sept. 1, 1941  
Sept. 20, 1941, eff. Dec. 31, 1941  
Aug. 18, 1947, eff. Dec. 31, 1947  
July 11, 1977, eff. Jan. 1, 1978  
June 10, 1980, eff. Jan. 1, 1981  
April 24, 1990, eff. Sept. 1, 1990  
Dec. 13, 2013, eff. Jan. 1, 2014  


(No. 59) Question: Under the Rule 169 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, assume that a party is delivered a proper request for ad­missions of fact and does not reply to the same within the time stipulated, and as­sume further that five days prior to the time that the party has to make his reply his attorney files a motion in the court papers for a ten day extension of time to file a reply and no other notice is given to the adverse party of the filing of such mo­tion, and no action is taken on the motion at the time, and no other motion for an ex­tension of time is made, would the court at the trial of the case over three months thereafter have any authority to permit such party to file a reply to the request for admissions?

Answer: We consider that the court would, under the circumstances at hand, have authority, in the exercise of its dis­cretion, to permit the reply to be filed un­less the motion were so worded as not to contemplate an extension at so late a time, and that it would likewise, of course, have the discretion to refuse such permis­sion. Rule 169 gives such authority on motion and notice. Rule 21 requires the clerk on the filing of the motion to make the proper entries concerning it on the motion docket, and renders such filing and entry sufficient notice, since the mo­tion is one in a pending suit. As these entries are to be made by the clerk, any failure to make them is the fault of the clerk. In the fact situation which is sup­posed in the question, the party demand­ing the admission has a clear remedy. It is to be expected that within the ten days allowed by Rule 169 he will have come into possession of a copy either of the sworn statement or else of the motion to enlarge the time for filing the sworn statement, because Rule 72 requires the transmission of a copy of any paper of that kind and Rule 73 puts the party in default of that duty in danger of having to pay for a certified copy. If at the end of the ten days' time the party demand­ing the admission receives no copy what­ever, he very naturally should resort to the papers to ascertain whether any paper has been filed. If, instead of a sworn state­ment as required by Rule 169, he en­counters a motion for enlargement of time, as is permitted by such. Rule, he may thereupon request the court to hear the motion, and he may persist in his request until it is heard. Since the efficacy of this whole proceeding is largely de­pendent upon its completion before the trial commences, it is, of course, to be hoped that the demandant would thus protect himself. The discretion of the court in such a case should be exercised to the end of requiring as prompt a filing of the sworn statement as the circumstances may justify.

It should be added that, in the event respondent's motion is ineffective on ac­count of its wording, a second though more onerous motion could be urged and granted under Rule 169 and subdivision (b) of Rule 5.

5 Tex. B.J. 426 (1942) reprinted in 8 Tex. B.J. 25 (1945).