Judge Lauren Reeder, 234th Harris County District Court Procedures


Judge Lauren Reeder

Court Procedures

Republished: Nov 24, 2022

Court Procedures:

Pre-trial Procedures and Motion Practice


Law day dockets are on Monday beginning at 10:15 AM and are in-person. Any party requesting an oral hearing can obtained a date through the E-Hearing System. Once you obtain a hearing date, and your e-hearing notice is emailed back to you, you will then file your notice of oral hearing and serve it on all counsel or pro se parties.  The court strives to read every filing prior to the oral hearing, and thus would like to have as much lead time as possible to read motions and responses so that it may rule promptly at the hearing or very shortly thereafter. Please call the Court Clerk and all counsel when any hearing is passed.

Submission Docket

Submission docket takes place on Monday at 8:00 AM after 10 days’ notice for most motions.

A request for an oral hearing is not a substitute for a response nor for a motion to continue the hearing.

If a party wants an oral hearing on a motion that has been placed on the submission docket that party should e-file a letter with the court requesting the hearing.

Temporary Injunctions

Temporary injunctions are set on Mondays at 11:30 a.m.

Before scheduling hearings, movants should call the Court and advise

(1) regarding readiness to proceed with the hearing,


(2) the estimated length of the hearing.

Depending on trial schedules and the length of the hearing, the Court may find it
necessary to extend the TRO and reschedule the temporary-injunction hearing.

Parties should not bring witnesses to court until checking with the court clerk.


In order to receive an emergency hearing you must file an emergency motion which must provide a detailed description of why it is needed.

The motion will be given to the Judge for her approval of the date and time for hearing.



Agreed or unopposed motions do not have to be placed on the court’s oral hearing or submission docket.

All unopposed or agreed motions should be titled as such.

In addition, ALL continuance or reset motions (whether agreed, unopposed or opposed) MUST state what number continuance motion is being filed

(i.e. “Plaintiff’s First” or “Defendant’s Second” or “Third Agreed Motion,” etc.).

If a motion is actually agreed, the motion and order should contain signature blocks for all parties that are agreed to the relief requested, and should state “AGREED AS TO SUBSTANCE AND FORM AND ENTRY REQUESTED” above the signature block.


First continuances may be granted for good cause or upon agreement of the parties if a motion for continuance is filed sufficiently in advance of the trial setting.

If agreed, first continuances will not require a hearing unless after reviewing the motion the Court deems one necessary.

The proposed order granting the continuance shall provide a space for the new trial date to be inserted by the Court.

If the parties would like to amend the docket control order in addition to continuing the trial date, please note your request in the Motion for Continuance and include the statement that a new scheduling order shall be issued by the Court in the proposed order.

Alternatively, an amended scheduling order may be submitted.

Continuances after the third continuance must demonstrate substantial need for a delay of the trial setting and must be set for oral hearing whether agreed or opposed.


A certificate of conference is required on all motions, pleas and special exceptions except:

Summary Judgments
Default Judgments
Agreed Judgments
Motions for voluntary dismissal or non-suit
Post-verdict motions; or
Motions involving service of citation
The movant must confer person-to-person with opposing counsel before the
Court will consider a motion that requires a conference.

The Court will pass motions that do not have a certificate stating

(1) that the movant has actually talked to opposing counsel,


(2) why counsel have not been able to discuss motion.

A certificate of conference stating that you sent a letter or email to opposing
counsel and received no response is not a proper certificate of conference


File proposed orders with all motions and responses.

On occasion, the Court may require parties to email longer or more complex proposed orders in Word format to the court clerk.

When submitting a proposed order, you must include a cover letter and indicate whether the order is agreed to as to form.


The Court expects that parties will make every effort to resolve all discovery issues without court intervention.

If such attempts prove unsuccessful, litigants may request an oral hearing on a motion to compel.

The complaining party should file a motion containing:

A brief description of the dispute;

The date, time, and place the parties have had out-of-court discovery discussions;

The names of all counsel participating in the discussions;


A copy or verbatim reproduction of the discovery requests and responses at issue.

After filing the motion, obtain a hearing through the E-Hearing System.

Proposed orders should list each discovery issue separately so that the court may sign a specific order granting or denying the requested relief.


3.1 Motions to Withdraw as Attorney of Record

Because motions to withdraw as attorney of record usually impose the burden of a pro se case on opposing parties and the court, they will be granted only when absolutely necessary.

Motions to Withdraw must be set for oral hearing, obtained through the E-Hearing system.

The following must be filed before any such motion will be considered:

1. Notice of hearing.

2. A statement of the particular circumstances and disciplinary rules requiring withdrawal.  A general statement such as “irreconcilable conflicts” is not enough.  Confidential matters may be filed under seal.

3. A certificate by the attorney of record of the client’s name, address, and telephone number, and the statement whether such information is current, or if not current, when it was last known to be correct.

4. A copy of a letter from the attorney of record to the client giving notice:

(a) that the attorney is withdrawing;

(b) that the client is deemed to have knowledge of and is required to abide by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure if the client proceeds pro se;

(c) that all notices from the Court to the client’s current address will be deemed to have been received unless the client notifies the Court of any change of address;

(d) that no continuances or extensions will be granted to the pro se client in order to obtain other counsel;


(e) notice of the hearing at which the motion to withdraw will be considered.

5. A signed acceptance of the terms of the letter described in item 4, if the client has agreed to the withdrawal.  If the client has not agreed to the withdrawal, proof of service of the letter described in item 4 must be filed.


All motions for Substituted Service under Rule 106 must be accompanied by an affidavit that includes the following information:

Efforts taken to verify that defendant actually lives or works at the subject address;
Each attempt at service, with date and time;

Identity of persons who were present at the subject address and what was said;

Identity of cars in the driveway or other indications that defendant resides at the subject address;

Any other information that will give the Court assurance that the defendant will receive notice through the requested substituted service.

Additionally, the following must be referenced and attached as an exhibit to the order:


It is further

ORDERED that service shall also comply with the following provisions:

(a) a copy of the citation and petition shall be mailed by both certified mail, return receipt requested, and regular mail to the Defendant at the same address at which service is authorized above;

(b) the return of service shall not be made until 30 days after mailing or until the process server receives back the green card from the post office, whichever is earlier;

(c) the return of service shall include a statement setting out the date of mailing and the result of the mailing by certified mail and the date of mailing and the result of mailing by regular mail (i.e., whether the envelope was returned by the post office, or the green card came back signed, or whatever happened as a result of the mailing); and

(d) a copy of any envelope or green card returned by the post office shall be attached to the return of citation.

The return of service of the person executing service pursuant to this order shall otherwise be made in accordance with Rule 107 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

Service will be complete upon compliance with this Order regardless of whether Defendant signs the certified mail receipt.

Motions for Substituted Service the Court will place the motion on submission docket, no need to file notice of submission.


Default judgments asking for unliquidated damages will need an oral hearing on Mondays at 10:00am with a ten days’ notice.

Default judgments asking for liquidated damages can be placed on the submission docket.

When proving damages in a motion for default judgment, show the court how you calculated the damage figure and provide evidence to support your calculation.

For instance, if you are suing for breach of a credit card or mortgage agreement, provide the court evidence as to how you calculated the amount due by the defendant/debtor.

When proving attorney’s fees in a motion for default judgment, in your affidavit provide the court with evidence to support your claim for attorney’s fees.

At a minimum you should show (1) your experience, (2) the work you did on the lawsuit, (3) how long it took you to do it and (4) your hourly rate.

The Court requires the movant to give the defaulting parties (as well as any other parties who may have made an appearance in the case) 10 days’ notice of the hearing and of the default motion by regular and certified mail, and to certify that this has been done in a certificate of service.

If the defaulting party was served at an address other than the address for which the citation was issued, the Court requires the movant to file a Motion to Amend Citation, requesting that the citation be amended to reflect the address at which valid service was actually accomplished, along with a proposed Order to Amend Citation.


Motions may be set for the first available hearing 21 days after the motion is filed, through the E-Hearing System.

Generally, Motions for summary judgment are heard on Mondays at 11:00 AM.

Motions may also be set on the submission docket at 8:00 a.m. on the first Monday following 21 days following filing the motion.

Plan ahead and do not wait until the last minute to file a MSJ or request a hearing.

File motions sufficiently in advance of the trial setting to be heard before the case is called to trial.

Summary judgments must be set for hearing at least one month before trial.  Late-filed summary judgments will not delay a trial setting and will be set at the Court’s discretion.

“No evidence” summary judgment motions should not be set for hearing more than 30 days before the first trial setting; unless the non-moving party does not contest that an adequate time for discovery has passed.


Motions for Severance should be set on the submission docket, any Monday at 8:00am with ten days’ notice. The motion must obtain the basis for the severance information. You can find a these Orders in a word format, on the Judges’ web page under form orders for the 234th

The order of the severance must contain the following information:

Style of the case;
Case number, i.e. 2006-32041-A;
Parties to be included in the severed case;
Documents to be included in the severed case;
Whether the severed order disposes of the severed case or if the case
shall remain active; and
The party paying for the costs of court and severance.

Special note regarding bankruptcies.  Severance are not granted merely because of bankruptcy filings.  In such cases, the opposing party should either dismiss the bankrupt party in this Court and proceed in Bankruptcy Court, or move for relief from the bankruptcy stay in Bankruptcy Court and proceed in this Court.

Trial Settings

All cases are automatically scheduled for trial pursuant to a docket control order.  If your case is a Level 3 case and you need special scheduling consideration  (e.g., a longer discovery period, a shorter trial setting), prepare an agreed scheduling order and submit it to the Court.

If you need to amend any deadline in the docket control order (except joinder, pre-trial conference, or trial setting), you may do so either by Rule 11 agreement or by moving for leave of Court.

Preferential settings will be granted only upon a showing of good cause (e.g., parties or witnesses reside outside the United States) and, absent other considerations, should be set for trial during the summer months with all parties waiving any vacation letters on file.

Pre-trial Conferences

A pre-trial conference is typically held before trial begins.

The Court Coordinator will telephone counsel with the day and time to appear for the pre-trial conference.

The Court will entertain requests to hold the pre-trial conference farther in advance.

Cases generally will have at least one day’s notice before being called in for trial.

Docket positions are available by contacting the Court Coordinator.

Non-Jury Trials:

Follow the above guidelines for jury trial, but prepare and exchange proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law with all counsel and provide them to the judge.

In addition, prepare a proposed form of judgment.

If you need more information on Bench or Jury Trials, Continuances, and DWOP please contact Lawanda Cornett.


You do need not appear in court to announce a settlement; a phone call to the court coordinator is sufficient or email from parties. Cases are dismissed for want of prosecution if no judgment is filed within time given after the court is notified of settlement (this time may be extended where necessary).

Settlements Involving Minor Children

A Guardian Ad Litem will be required for all settlements involving minor children.

The parties are to submit an Agreed motion and order for appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem.  The Court will then select the Guardian Ad Litem for that case, and will inform the parties of the Court’s decision.

Once a Guardian Ad Litem has been appointed, the parties may contact the Court Clerk in order to obtain a Minor Settlement hearing date.

At the time of the hearing, the parties are to present the proposed Judgment, as well as the Supreme Court ad litem fee report.


The Court accepts courtesy copies only on thumb drives, unless over 200 pages.

The Court no longer accepts paper courtesy copies or e-mails of courtesy copies.

Instead, if a party wishes to bring a particular filing to the Court’s attention, the party may

(1) file the document electronically with the clerk’s office as it normally does and then

(2) call the Court to bring the document to the Court’s attention, and ask the Court to view and consider the document that is already in the Court’s electronic file system.

Alternatively, if you absolutely must file a courtesy copy of the document (which is discouraged) then you must do so on a flash drive or disc.

Information For Pro-Se Litigants

Republished: Nov 24, 2022

1.      As a pro se litigant, you are acting as your own attorney.  You will be expected to know and follow the law and court rules just as any attorney, including the Texas Rules of Evidence, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Harris County Local Rules, and the Lawyer’s Creed.  If you fail to follow the rules, you may permanently lose important rights.

2.      The judge, court staff (including the court coordinator, court clerk, court reporter, bailiff), and opposing counsel cannot give you legal advice.

3.      Do not attempt to communicate privately with the judge.  The term “communication” includes contact by means of phone calls, letters, voice mail messages, faxes, e-mail messages, and direct conversations.  You may communicate with the judge if all parties and their attorneys (if they are represented) are present.  Any such unilateral contact is called “ex parte” communication and the district judge will not considered it for any information or argument offered in such a manner for any purpose.  The court will return an ex parte communication to you unread and notify the other side of the communication.  Prohibited communications do not include formal pleadings, motions, and request for relief filed with the clerk.

4.      It is your responsibility to provide the Court with a current and reliable mailing address and telephone number.  Once you file your pleadings in the case, the clerk will notify you by mail of hearings and / or motions.  If you move, you must provide your new address and telephone number to the clerk and the court.  If you move and you do not get your mail, you may permanently lose important rights.

5.      Your requests to the court should be made in a written motion.

6.      You must send a copy of every pleading you file with the court to the opposing attorney, or party (if they do not have an attorney).

7.      If you have received notice that a hearing has been scheduled, you must be prepared to present your evidence and witnesses.

8.      How to Get Ready for Court – You can go to court yourself and watch other cases before yours is scheduled.  If you do this, you will see how the court works, where everyone sits and what they do and say.  Plan to do this a few days or weeks before your have to go to court.

9.      The Hearing – At the hearing, a district judge will hear your case.  Each party will have a chance to tell his or her side of the story.  It is important to bring your paperwork and your evidence such as photos, witnesses, bills, receipts, contracts, or anything else that will prove your case.

10.  How to Dress – Dress as though you were going to an important job interview.  Be neat and clean.  Do not wear shorts, flip-flops, tank tops, halter tops, sandals, hats, or other casual clothing.  The court will order you removed from the courtroom if you are dressed inappropriately; this may result in a default of your case.

11.  Timeliness – Always get to court on time.  A good rule of thumb is to arrive at least thirty minutes early in order to allow for time to locate parking, clear the security check and locate the proper courtroom.

12.  Courtroom Demeanor -You and your witnesses should be quiet in court.

Ø  Do not smoke or chew gum.

Ø  Turn your off cell phone, pagers or other audible nuisances when you are in the courtroom.

Ø  Do not go in and out of the courtroom while waiting for your case to be called.

Ø  Do not bring children to court unless they have been subpoenaed.

Ø  During your case speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard, and stay calm.

Ø  Stand when speaking to the judge.

Ø  Call the judge “Your Honor.”

Ø  Do not interrupt the judge, the attorneys or any other party in the courtroom.

Ø  At all times you should retain a composed and attentive posture whether you are in the audience, appearing as a witness, appearing as a party.

Ø  It is never proper to speak, even in a whisper, with friends or other audience members while court is in session.

13.  Violations of any of the above guidelines may result in sanctions being granted against you.

The following associations may be able to assist you in obtaining an attorney:

·         Houston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Program  (713) 759-1133
1001 Fannin, Suite #1300
Houston, Texas 77002

·         The State Bar of Texas
Lawyer Referral Information Service
(800) 252-9690 or 1-877-9TEXBAR

·         Lone Star Legal Aid
(713) 652-0077 or (800) 733-8394


Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program

Resource and Referral Guide

Family Law
Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program (HVLP)
Representation in family and general civil legal matters

Lone Star Legal Aid
Family & other civil legal matters

Houston Lawyer Referral Service
For-fee ($) referrals to specialists

Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA)
Counseling & legal representation

Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC)
Divorces, protective orders, modifications, enforcement; limited services for non-domestic violence

NAACP Legal Redress Program
Family law, probate, landlord/tenant, consumer; services for persons with HIV/AIDS

University of Houston Legal Aid Clinic
Civil & family law

South Texas College of Law
Simple divorces

Texas Southern University School of Law Clinic
Family, civil, housing, consumer, immigration

Southeast Texas Legal Clinic
General civil matters for HIV+ clients

Attorney General’s Office
Child support, paternity establishment

Domestic Relations Office
Enforcement of child support, visitation, and paternity establishment

Dispute Resolution Center
Mediation services for disputes between neighbors, family members, landlord/tenant, employer/employee, consumer matters

Disability-related Issues
Advocacy, Inc.

The Arc of Texas
Programs and services for persons with mental retardation

Mental Health/Mental Retardation Authority of Harris Co.
Information, assessment, and referral

General Legal

Lone Star Legal Aid

Dispute Resolution Center

Houston Lawyer Referral Service

NAACP Legal Redress Program

Free phone advice on 1st & 3rd Wednesday each month, 5-9 pm

Consejos Legales
Spanish-version of LegalLine, 1st Thursday each month, 5-9 pm

Legal Hotline for Older Texans
For 60+ Texans, answer legal questions free, referrals

Domestic Violence/Shelters
Texas Abuse Hotline
24-hour hotline for abuse & neglect of children and elderly

Family Violence Legal Hotline
Counseling & information about legal rights & options

Bay Area Women’s Center
Women’s shelter



Family Violence Unit of District Attorney’s Office
Parental kidnapping, family violence, protective orders, criminal non-support

Houston Police Department’s Family Violence Unit

Harris County Sheriff’s Family Violence Unit

Children’s Protective Services (CPS)
Investigation of child abuse

Adult Protective Services
Investigation of elder abuse


South Texas College of Law

University of Houston Legal Aid Clinic

Lone Star Legal Aid

Houston Lawyer Referral

NAACP Legal Redress Program


Catholic Charities

YMCA International Services

IRS Issues
HVLP Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic
Tax controversies, innocent spouse

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
Free tax return preparation

Consumer Issues

Lone Star Legal Aid

NAACP Legal Redress Program

Houston Lawyer Referral Service

Dispute Resolution Center

Better Business Bureau

Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline
Consumer complaints against individual or business

Consumer Fraud Harris County DA

Employment/Wage Issues
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Wage disputes involving discrimination issues

Texas Workforce Commission
Employment-related problems

State Board of Labor
Salary complaints & disputes

Social Security Matters
South Texas College of Law

Southeast Texas Legal Clinic
Only for persons with HIV/AIDS


Criminal Matters
Harris Co. Criminal Lawyers

Harris Co. Criminal Lawyers

District Attorney’s Office
Files criminal charges

Texas Southern University
Traffic violations and misdemeanors

Civil Rights Violations
American Civil Liberties Union

GLBT Issues
Lambda Legal

Law Enforcement
Houston Police Dispatch

HPD Family Violence Unit

Harris Co. Sheriff’s Office

Harris Co. Constable’s Office

Other Resources
Rape Crisis Hotline

Crisis Intervention of Houston
Crisis intervention & suicide prevention, 24/7

United Way Helpline
Provides referrals to agencies and social services; emergency aid, continuing education, medical resources, shelters
2-1-1 | 713-957-HELP | 800-833-5948

Harris Co. Social Services
Assistance with payment of rent, utility, phone bills

Texas Dept. of Human Services
Help with food, shelter

Interfaith Ministries
Rent & utility assistance

Star of Hope Mission
Emergency shelter

AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
Free tax return preparation

Other Useful Information


Texas Rules of Court:  http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/

Harris County Local Rules:  http://www.justex.net/LocalRules/LocalRules.aspx

Library Resources:

Harris County Law Library    http://www.co.harris.tx.us/law/

1019 Congress, 17th Floor

Houston, Texas  77002

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Saturday 9:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m


Houston Public Library:  http://www.houstonlibrary.org/

500 McKinney Street

Houston, Texas 77002


Free Legal Research Sites on the Internet:



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