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Justices of the Peace - You Have Been Sued

I've Been Sued, Now What?

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND BY LAW WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ANSWER LEGAL QUESTIONS OR GIVE LEGAL ADVICE.  THIS IS ONLY A BRIEF OUTLINE TO HELP YOU.  THE RULES THAT GOVERN JUSTICE COURTS CAN BE FOUND IN PART V OF THE TEXAS RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.

May I See the Judge?

The Judge, by law, is not permitted to discuss a pending Civil Case with either party prior to trial.  He must remain impartial in order to render a fair judgement.  This is the reason for the instruction sheet.

When do I Appear for my Hearing?

You may call the Court and ask when the hearing date has been set.  PLEASE provide your case number to the Civil Clerk.

Do I Need to File a Written Answer?

When you are sued and served with a citation from the Justice Court, you must answer the suit by filing with the Court a proper Written Answer. Your answer is due by the end of the 14th day after the day you were served.  You must also send the Plaintiff (person suing you) a copy of your Written Answer.  If you do not respond, you are agreeing that the suit may be tried in Hopkins County and the Plaintiff may recover the full amount he is seeking.

Do I Need an Attorney?

The choice is yours.  An attorney is not required, but permitted.

May I Request a Reset?

The Judge will consider a reset only upon proof of a good reason not being able to appear at least 7 days prior to court date.

Should I Bring a Witness to Testify in my Behalf, or Will a Notarized Affidavit be Okay?

Although an affidavit is permitted, it is always better to have a witness present to be able to answer any questions.

Can my Wife/Husband or Friend Appear in my Place?

This is not a yes or no answer.  Better that someone appear than no one.  But  no one can present the facts better than you.

What Should I Bring to Prove my Side?

Any written documents, or anyone to give testimony in your behalf.

Will I be Arrested if I Don't Show Up?

No, this is not a criminal action.

The choice is yours.  An attorney is not required, but permitted.

I Don't Owe Any Money, Why Should I Appear?

This is your opportunity to present the facts as you see them to the Judge.  Also, the ruling could be against you simply for not appearing.

Why are They Suing Me?

Anyone can sue and anyone can be sued.  The Plaintiff is required to prove his case and prove he has the correct person, if it is challenged by the defendant.

What Happens if I Don't Pay?

In order to answer this question, we must first assume you have appeared for a hearing and the Judge has ruled against you and a money judgement awarded to the other party, or you did not answer or appear for a hearing and the Judge ruled Judgement by Default against you.  If you fit into one of the above situations, the following could be the next course of action if you do not appeal within 21 days of judgment or 5 days on evictions.

Abstract of Judgement (Property Code - Chapter 52)

1.  Available after judgement signed
2.  Creates a lien on real estate in the county in which abstract is recorded.  Can be recorded in any and all counties in which defendant may have property.
3.  Made available to credit bureau.
4.  Draws interest at the rate set by Consumer Credit Commissioner.
5.  Is effective for 10 years from date of recording and is renewable for an addition 10 years, conditioned on a writ of execution having been issued anytime during the first 10 year period.
6.  Defendant's birth date and driver's license number will be added to abstract if make available to Court.
7.  Recorded through the County Clerk's Office.

Writ of Execution (Rules of Court - Rule 621)

1.  Available anytime after 30 days from date of judgement.
2.  Available for specifically described personal property.
3.  Purpose is to seize non-0exempt property or obtain payment
4.  Must be executed by any sheriff or constable within the State of Texas.
5.  Returnable in 90 days.
6.  May issue as many times as necessary to satisfy money judgment or personal property judgment.
7.  May be served in any county in State of Texas.
8.  All fees expended by Plaintiff to this point will be included in a bill of cost attached to Writ.

NOTE: Pursuant to Texas Property Code, 42.001, there exists a personal property exemption of $60,000 for a family and $30,000 for a single adult, in addition to 12 other items listed in the form of personal property.



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