Dallas Local Court Rules:
The Local Rules of the Civil Courts of Dallas County adopted for use in Dallas County and in this Court may be located through this link.
The Court does not typically issue scheduling orders. The parties can agree to a scheduling order, but the Court may not isuue one.
Mediation must be completed before trial. The Court may appoint a mediator for each case. The parties may request a different mediator upon motion and submission of an Agreed Order to Substitute Mediators. The order must specify the name of both the substituted mediator and the previously-appointed mediator. If the parties are opposed to mediation, they must notify the Court of the reasons for their opposition in a motion and request a hearing.
Counsel/parties are welcome and encouraged to use the courtroom, including use of the audio-visual equipment, for purposes of preparing for trial provided Court is not in session. Contact Court Administrator Laura Nutting to determine an appropriate time.
Pursuant to the Local Rules, if a plaintiff does not announce by 10:30 a.m. on the Friday before trial, the case may be dismissed for want of prosecution. The trial docket will be posted on www.judgekingfifer.com thirty (30) days before trial. The posting contains a list of all cases for that particular docket along with attorney information for those cases. The website is updated continually, and announcements regarding settlement and continuances will be posted. On the Friday before trial, Court Administrator Laura Nutting will endeavor to contact counsel and post who is to appear for trial on www.judgekingfifer.com.
The Court has no standing rule on time limits for voir dire; however, there will be a time limit. The Court will advise jurors at the beginning of voir dire that they may choose to speak to the Court and counsel privately if they have answers to questions, or need to share information, outside the presence of the rest of the venire panel.
Juror challenges will take place outside the presence of the panel once all questioning, including private questioning, has been completed. Anyone wishing to use exhibits or demonstrative aids during voir dire will need to obtain the agreement of opposing counsel or bring the request to the Court's attention in sufficient time for the Court to consider the request prior to voir dire. The Court does not favor use of such materials unless absolutely necessary to the process of jury selection in the case.
In certain cases, and if the parties agree, the Court may submit an agreed jury questionnaire. The Court suggests a one page form except in exceptional circumstances, and the form should have a space for the prospective juror to note any hardships or problems in serving for the estimated length of the trial. The Court will resolve any disagreement as to specific questions or whether a questionnaire should be submitted. Any such dispute must be brought to the Court's attention promptly, however, and definitely before the morning of trial. The Court has a form jury questionnaire available for the parties, check with Court Administrator Laura Nutting to obtain a copy.
Trial Date and Continuances:
The Court will assign each case a trial date. Upon request, parties may choose their own trial date. Per the Dallas County Local Rules, agreed continuances for cases less than one year old typically will be granted without a hearing. Signatures of all counsel and the parties are required on motions for continuance for cases older than one year. Any opposed continuance requires a hearing, which may be by way of conference call.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO):
Judge Fifer will hear TROs if he is available. If he is not immediately available, the parties must take the application to Court Administrator Laura Nutting for further direction. Judge Fifer will consider TROs from other courts only with permission from that court's presiding judge. All County Court at Law judges require compliance with Local Rule 2.02 on ex parte Applications.
The Court will set hearings on notices of intent to dismiss a case for want of prosecution approximately 120 days after the suit is filed. If a party needs more time to effect service, etc., counsel must advise Court Administrator Laura Nutting prior to the hearing, and the dismissal time may be extended.
Motions for default judgments are typically handled by submission. A Motion for Default Judgment should be filed with all of the requisite information required under the law. Testimony regarding damages will be accepted by the Court in affidavit form. In certain circumstances, the Court may require a hearing on damages and, in those cases, a clerk will notify the parties a hearing will be necessary.
Faxes and Emails:
DO NOT FAX OR EMAIL PLEADINGS, MOTIONS, LETTERS OR BRIEFS TO THE COURT.
Appeals from Justice Court:
Appeals from Justice of the Peace or Small Claims courts are typically set on a different trial docket. Forcible Entry and Detainer (FE&D/Eviction cases) appeals from Justice of the Peace courts are typically set for trial within thirty days. Corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships and other legal entities must be represented by an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas.
Occupational Driver's Licenses:
When applying for an occupational driver's license, Judge Fifer requires the following: (1) the individual requesting the license must be present at the hearing; (2) proof of SR 22 insurance policy (SR-22 insurance policy is a certificate of insurance showing the Texas Department of Public Safety proof of insurance for the future, as required by law); (3) a copy of the complete driving record of the individual requesting a license; (4) a waiver signed by the Dallas County District Attorney's office; (5) a listing of the requested permissible driving hours (12 hours maximum); (6) a list of counties and specific routes in which the individual seeks to operate a motor vehicle and the necessary reasons for travel. Hearings need to be set with the Deputy Clerk on the normal motion docket.
Cameras in the Courtroom:
The Court follows Supreme Court of Texas Misc. Docket No. 92-0067, approved March 11, 1992, regarding procedures for electronic media coverage. Copies may be obtained from http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/miscdocket/92/92-0067.pdf