municipal courts as well as those courts already covered under the Supreme Court’s order. The bill also
requires that the monthly reports include all appointments made during a month in addition to payments
made during the month. If the amount paid to a person in a month on one case exceeds $1,000, the report
must also include any information related to the case that is available to the court on the number of hours
billed and billed expenses.
Additionally, the Supreme Court’s order only applies to family law cases under Titles 1, 2 and 4 of the Family
Code. SB 1369 requires reporting on appointments to all family law cases, including child protection cases.
SB 1369 also expands the reporting requirement to any relevant activity in criminal and juvenile cases.
Unlike the Supreme Court’s order which requires that any fee payment over $500 be reported, SB 1369
only requires reporting of payments made to attorneys ad litem, guardians ad litem, guardians, mediators
and competency evaluators.
The new reporting requirements 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 litem, guardian ad litem, amicus attorney, or mediator appointed under a domestic relations
office established under Chapter 203, Family Code.”
SB 1369 requires that the monthly reports be submitted no later than the 15
day of each month to the
Office of Court Administration; this is a shorter time period than the Supreme Court’s requirement that the
reports be submitted no later than the 20th day following the end of the month.
SB 1369 also makes a
court ineligible for state grant funds in the following biennium if it fails to provide the clerk of the court the
information required to be submitted in the reports.
The report must include:
• The name of each person appointed by the court in the month;
• The name of the judge and the date of the order approving compensation to be paid to a person
• The number and style of the case
• The number of cases each person was appointed to in the month
• The total amount of compensation paid to each person and the source of compensation
• 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 expenses.
• If no appointment was made during the reporting period, the clerk must submit a report indicating so.
Clerks are already reporting most of this information in most types of cases. The exceptions are that they
must submit a report even if there are no appointments 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 content 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
SB 1369 also requires the clerk to post the report at the courthouse of the county in which the court is
located and on any Internet website of the court.
Under the Supreme Court’s order, a clerk is only required
to make a copy available for public inspection in the clerk’s office.