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10

In Chambers

| Summer 2016

New Reporting Requirements

The new reporting requirements are more compre-

hensive than what is currently required under the Su-

preme Court’s order.The new law requires

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:

1. reporting from appellate, justice and municipal

courts in addition to those courts already cov-

ered under the Supreme Court’s order;

2. reporting of fees payed for each court appoint-

ment during the month and all appointments

made during the month regardless of whether a

fee is paid - the Supreme Court’s order only re-

quires reporting of fees paid;

3. if the amount paid to a person in a month in one

case exceeds $1,000, any information related

to the case that is available to the court on the

number of hours billed and billed expenses – this

is not currently required under the Supreme

Court’s order;

4. reporting on appointments to all family law cases,

including child protection cases and it also ex-

pands the reporting requirement to any relevant

activity in criminal and juvenile cases – the Su-

preme Court’s order only applies to family law

cases under Titles 1, 2 and 4 of the Family Code.

Unlike the Supreme Court’s order which requires

that

any

fee payment over $500 be reported, the new

law only requires reporting of payments made to attor-

neys ad litem, guardians ad litem, guardians, mediators

and competency evaluators

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. The new reporting re-

quirements do not apply to:“1) a mediation conducted

by an alternative dispute resolution system established

under Chapter 152,Civil Practices and Remedies Code,

2) information made confidential under state or federal

law, including applicable rules, 3) a guardian ad litem or

other person appointed under a program authorized

by Sec. 107.031, Family Code, or 4) an attorney ad li-

tem, guardian ad litem, amicus attorney, or mediator

appointed under a domestic relations office established

under Chapter 203, Family Code.”

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The monthly reports must be submitted no later

than the 15

th

day of each month to the Office of Court

Administration; this is a shorter time period than the

Supreme Court’s current requirement that the reports

be submitted no later than the 20th day following the

end of the month

.7

If a court fails to provide the clerk

of the court the information required to be submitted

in the required reports the court becomes ineligible

for state grant funds in the following biennium.

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Report Content

The report must include:

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1. the name of each person appointed by the court

in the month;

2. the name of the judge and the date of the order

approving compensation to be paid to a person

appointed;

3. the number and style of the case;

4. the number of cases each person was appointed

to in the month;

5. the total amount of compensation paid to each

person and the source of compensation;

6. if the total amount paid to a person in one case in

the month exceeds $1,000, the number of hours

billed for the work performed and the billed ex-

penses; and

7. if no appointment was made during the reporting

period, the clerk must submit a report indicating

so.

Clerks are already reporting most of this informa-

tion in most types of cases. The exceptions are that

they must submit a report even if there are no ap-

pointments made in the month and they must provide

more detailed information that is available to the court

in cases where a person is paid more than $1,000 in a

case in one month.

Judges should be especially aware of the report con-

tent requirements so that all court appointment orders

and orders approving payment include the information

the clerk requires to prepare and submit the monthly

reports. Ensuring that orders making appointments and

approving payment contain this information is not only

a best practice, it is currently required by the Supreme

Court’s order for the cases that must be reported

under the Court’s order. Additionally, as mentioned

above, failure to do so may make the court ineligible

for state grant funding in the following state biennium.

Posting the Report

The new law also requires the clerk to post the re-

port at the courthouse of the county in which the

court is located and on any Internet website of the

court.

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Supreme Court Order Will Remain in Effect

The Supreme Court order will remain in place for

appointments in civil cases, but the $500 minimum

threshold for the fees is being removed by changes

to Judicial Council reporting rules. The reporting rule