Litigants without an attorney

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Introduction

The information on this website is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. The District Clerk’s Office (DCO), nor the judge, court staff or opposing counsel can give you legal advice or assist you in the preparation of your documents.

Pro se litigants

Litigants who choose to represent themselves without an attorney are considered pro se, meaning that you are acting as your own attorney. You will be expected to know and follow the law and court rules just as any attorney. You should know the Texas Rules of Evidence, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure or Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure, Harris County Local Rules and the Lawyer’s Creed. You can only represent yourself. It is illegal to represent another person.

No communication with judges

Do not attempt to communicate privately with the judge. The term “communication” includes contact by means of phone calls, letters, voice messages, faxes, emails and direct conversation. Any such direct contact is considered ex parte communication and is a violation of the rules, which could lead to sanctions by the court. You may only communicate with the judge if all parties and their attorneys are present. You may communicate with opposing counsel and file formal pleadings and motions, and request for relief through the District Clerk electronically or by written documents.

Electronic filing

In the State of Texas, you are able to file pleadings and motions electronically or by written document. Everything you file must be also sent to the opposing attorney in a timely manner. Click here for a presentation about how to electronically file documents pertaining to civil cases.

Your responsibilities

As a litigant, you are responsible to provide the court with a current and reliable mailing address, an email address, and a telephone number. The clerk will notify you of any hearings or motions that are filed. Without proper contact information, you will not receive this information.

If you receive notice of a hearing, you must be present or your case may be dismissed. You must be prepared to present your case. Have your evidence and witnesses ready.

It is imperative that you be on time for court, or your case may be dismissed. Make sure to give yourself sufficient time to park and wait in line to enter the courthouse. Be prepared.

To show respect to the court, please dress appropriately. No casual clothing such as shorts, flip-flops, tank tops or hats.

While in the courtroom, you must abide by the rules. Make sure your cell phone is on silent, do not bring children with you, and remain silent while waiting for your case. When addressing the judge be sure to say “Your Honor” and always stand up and speak loud enough to be heard. Be polite and never interrupt the judge or other attorneys or parties.

Local legal resources

Houston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Program (713) 759-1133

The State Bar of Texas / Lawyer Referral Information (800) 252-9690 / (877) 983-9227

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

Houston Lawyer Referral Service (713) 237-9429