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What is Bexar County Presiding Court?


If you have a civil case in Bexar County, Texas, you should be familiar with the Bexar County Presiding Court system. Other counties assign a case to a specific court when the initial documents are filed. Bexar County, however, follows a centralized docketing system. This blog post will attempt to explain how the centralized docketing system works in Bexar County. 

What is Presiding Court? 

When a petition or initial filing occurs in a civil case in Bexar County, the case is assigned to a court, but – somewhat counterintuitively – this does not necessarily mean that the assigned court will hear your case. Instead, all cases are set to appear first in Civil District Presiding Court, located either in person at 100 Dolorosa, Suite 1.09 or via Zoom. There, the Presiding Judge for that month will (re-)assign your case to one of the fourteen Bexar County Civil District court judges that hear all civil cases. 

What is the Purpose of Presiding Court’s Docket Call? 

Presiding Court has two purposes beyond assigning matters to the different civil district court judges who are available to hear cases on a given day. First, they hear uncontested matters that do not need a record. Second, they hear emergency matters that may require interim orders depending on the circumstances of the parties or the children.  

What are the different dockets called throughout the day in Bexar County Presiding Court, and what is the purpose of each one? 

8:30 a.m.: The 8:30 a.m. is docket for non-evidentiary matters that don’t necessarily require fact-driven testimony.  

8:45 a.m.: The 8:45 a.m. docket is for protective orders filed by the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.  

9:00 a.m.: The 9:00 a.m. docket is for all evidentiary matters that may require testimony and the introduction of evidence.  

Other dockets: When all other judges are occupied, the presiding court judge may hear routine, uncontested, or emergency matters after the call of the morning dockets (usually after 10:00 a.m.). The uncontested docket is set after lunch at 1:30 p.m. 

What Happens if I miss my Case at Docket Call? 

The consequences are slightly different depending on whether you’re the party bringing the action or not: 

If you ARE the party bringing the action and you miss your matter, your matter will be dropped unless you approach the clerk and let them know you missed the calling of your case at the call of the docket.  

If you ARE NOT the party bringing the action and you miss your case, the hearing can proceed forward without you. This is called a default hearing, where the other party gets to put on their case and request their relief from the judge without you being present. This only happens when you have been served with proper notice of the hearing time, date, and place. If you miss the docket call, you should approach the clerk of the court to find out whether your case was assigned out, and if so, to which court your case was assigned so that you can attempt to appear before the matter is resolved. For this reason, it is extremely important for you to be prompt to court, and when possible, make sure that you exchange contact information (phone number and email) with the attorney for the opposing party prior to the court date. 

What Happens During the Morning Docket Call? 

The purpose of the docket call is to allow civil district courts to schedule multiple matters during the day. When you appear in Presiding Court, you are there to make an “announcement” which informs the judge whether you are “ready” or “not ready” to proceed forward with the case and make a time announcement. The time announcement is how long you estimate the hearing will take, in other words, the estimate of how much time you will need to argue your case in front of a judge. The shorter your time announcement the more quickly you will be assigned. The judge makes every effort to get all matters set on a particular day sent out to be heard by a judge, but some longer announcements may not be heard that day if there are not enough judges available.  

The judge who receives your case is only obligated to give you the amount of time you announced for your case. If you go far beyond the time announcement, the judge has the authority to stop hearing the case and send you back to Presiding Court to start again. This is why it is important that you be as accurate as possible in making your time announcement.  

It is helpful if you can agree on a time announcement with the other side. However, if you cannot agree on the time announcement, the Presiding Judge will ask each side what they estimate the time for the hearing will be and that will be the range of time that is allotted for your hearing. For example, if you announce 15 minutes for your case and the other side announces 2 hours, then the time announcement will be 15 minutes to 2 hours. 

Do I need a Lawyer to Handle My Presiding Court matter? 

There are a lot of rules regarding how to successfully engage in Presiding Court. Those rules become even more complex when Presiding Court assigns your case to be heard by one of the available civil district court judges. If you have a divorce or child custody case it makes sense to hire a lawyer as soon as possible so that the lawyer can have time to prepare for your court setting. Don’t lose important rights by waiting to hire a lawyer. 

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, contact The Locke Law Group today. We have the experience and expertise to help you with your case.