Pursuant to Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 21(b), the court provides the following information for participants.
Our courtroom technology can seamlessly accommodate simultaneous remote and in-person appearances without the need for special equipment. These instructions are provided to give guidance on the rules and procedures governing remote and in-person proceedings in Probate Court 1.
Default Rule: All Proceedings Are Conducted In Person. The default rule is that all persons participating in a court proceeding do so "by physical presence in the court". Tex. R. Civ. P. 21(d)(1).
Contested Matters: In-Person Pursuant to the Default Rule. Contested matters, including the Ancillary Docket, Pre-Trial Settings, and all Trials are conducted in person by default. Objections to in-person appearances will be considered pursuant to TRCP 21d(d) [see below]. In addition, the Court, on its own, may permit remote or hybrid appearances based on the factors in 21d(e), in which case, the Court will advise all participants within a reasonable amount of time. TRCP 21d(b)(1)&(2)
- Motions for Leave to Appear Remotely must be filed and set for a hearing within a reasonable time before the setting in which the party seeks to appear remotely. Motions for Leave to Appear Remotely may be considered on the Submission Docket or heard remotely or in person. Factors considered in determining good cause include those listed in TRCP 21d(e).
Uncontested Matters: Remote, In-Person, or Hybrid. Harris County Probate Court 1 offers remote, in-person, and hybrid appearances for most uncontested matters, including dockets for the Probate of Wills, Heirships and Administrations, and Guardianships. Participants are not required to inform the court of their method of appearing, but notices to all other parties must comply with TRCP 21(b).
Objections to Method of Appearance. Pursuant to TRCP 21d(d), a party may object to the method of appearance, stating good cause for the objection. Objections must be filed within a reasonable time after the party receives notice of the appearance or setting and set for its own hearing in advance of the original hearing. Objections may be considered on the Submission Docket or heard remotely or in person. Factors considered in determining good cause include those listed in TRCP 21d(e).
Method of Appearing Remotely. Participants may appear remotely using Zoom with adequate internet access using either a laptop or desktop computer. Participants may not appear using a telephone or smartphone unless a laptop or desktop is otherwise unavailable. Participants must be in a room that allows for privacy and avoidance of external noises or other interruptions. Participants may not appear in a vehicle or in public areas where disturbances may likely occur.
Information for Appearances. The Courtroom is located at 201 Caroline St., 6th Floor, Houston, Texas 77002. Links and other information for remote appearances may be obtained by contacting the Court Coordinator at 832-927-1401.
Court Information for 21(b) Notices:
Harris County Probate Court No. 1
201 Caroline St., 6th Floor
Houston, Texas 77002
The Court conducts remote proceedings using Zoom. Parties setting hearings for Zoom or hybrid proceedings should contact the court for a link and share the link in their Notice of Court Proceeding. Zoom software can be downloaded at Zoom.us
Remote Best Practices:
Remote participants must be in a quiet, indoor space and may not appear in vehicles or in public areas where external noises or other interruptions may occur. The use of smartphones and tablets are not recommended. Delays caused by issues with smartphones or tablets may cause the matter to be reset. Please refer to this "Best Practices" handout
Submitting Evidence: The court strongly recommends that counsel reach an agreement as to admissible evidence prior to their court proceeding.
For in-person hearings and trials, evidence may be submitted in documentary form with copies for opposing parties and the judge. Digital evidence that can be reproduced on paper should be presented to the Court Reporter on paper unless its digital form is relevant to the case.
Remote participants may submit evidence by uploading digital documents to the "Chat" box on Zoom. Evidence may be presented remotely using the "Share" function. For voluminous evidence, the Court can provide shared Dropbox folders to attorneys.
Whether remote or in-person, if the evidence is voluminous, the Court appreciates a notebook with all proposed evidence, bookmarked with a table of contents.
Court's Designated Contact Person:
Cres Machicek, Chief of Staff