Editor’s Note: State Bar of Texas Executive Director Trey Apffel sent the following message to members on December 18.
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. I am writing to share information related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to remind you about the upcoming public forums on the 2021 rules vote.
Office of Court Administration Reiterates Remote Proceedings Mandate, Requires Recertification of In-Person Operating Plans
On December 17, 2020, the Office of Court Administration reiterated that trial judges in district, county, justice, and municipal courts must not hold in-person proceedings in any matter unless the trial judge has used all reasonable efforts to conduct the proceeding remotely. This is mandated by the Texas Supreme Court’s 29th emergency order and is required regardless of whether a city or county has approved an operating plan.
Also, unless local administrative judges and presiding judges of municipal courts re-certify their in-person operating plans before January 1, 2021, courts in their localities may not hold any in-person proceedings.
Details on these new instructions, other court guidance, and local operating plans are on the OCA’s website.
If you have a complaint about a judge not following the Supreme Court order, OCA guidance, or the county/city operating plan for in-person proceedings, please contact the regional presiding judge in your area:
Also, the Supreme Court issued its 30th emergency order on Monday. The order extends certain deadlines for eviction-pleading requirements to December 31 to conform to deadlines provided by the Centers for Disease Control eviction moratorium orders and the CARES Act.
Register Now for 2021 Rules Vote Public Forum Webinars
Texas lawyers are being called upon to exercise their right of self-governance by voting on proposed amendments to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Voting will take place from February 2 to March 4 by paper and electronic ballot.
Public forums for the 2021 rules vote will take place via webinar on the following dates*:
• January 5, 2021 (1 p.m. CST) – REGISTRATION FULL
• January 14, 2021 (1 p.m. CST) – REGISTRATION FULL
• January 26, 2021 (1 p.m. CST) – Register now
• February 9, 2021 (1 p.m. CST) – Register now
*Note: Registration capacity for each forum is 1,000 participants. Additional dates will be added if necessary.
Each event will include a one-hour CLE presentation on the proposed disciplinary rule amendments (approved for one hour of MCLE ethics credit) featuring members of the Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda, followed by a live forum where attendees can ask questions and provide comments regarding the proposed amendments.
Registration is free and open now. Register early to ensure you have a spot. When registering, you will have a chance to designate any topics you would like to address during the public forum portion of the event.
If you can’t make it to a live event, a recorded version will be available on demand. Go to texasbar.com/rulesvote and read the January issue of the Texas Bar Journal to learn more about the proposals.
I wish you all a peaceful holiday season and a prosperous new year.
Trey Apffel, Executive Director
State Bar of Texas
Resources to Keep You Informed: The State Bar of Texas continues to update texasbar.com/coronavirus with the latest resources and information to help you stay informed of the changes affecting our profession. You can also sign up for the State Bar’s Daily News Briefing at texasbar.com/dailynews to receive the latest legal news updates in your inbox every weekday.