In an emergency order issued earlier yesterday, the Texas Supreme Court extended all service and filing deadlines in civil cases from March 13 until June 1.
This is the eighth emergency order that the Court has issued in response to a Texas-wide state of disaster related to COVID-19. The eighth order amends a certain paragraph in the first of these orders, which contained discretionary language allowing Texas courts to extend the statute of limitations in civil cases until 30 days after the lifting of Governor Abbott’s declared state of disaster.
The mandatory tolling language in the eighth order was prompted in part by a letter to the Court from nine bar association and section leaders, in which they urged against the discretionary language in the first order:
“The use of the term ‘may’ leaves courts, the bar, and parties with no understanding of how to address the potentially dispositive issue of limitations that are arising while the nation is in this moment of unprecedented crisis…The practical effect of the language suggests there could be various application or enforcement of statute of limitations for cases filed in Dallas County as opposed to filed in Williamson County, effectively allowing different rules for all 254 counties.”
The tolling of limitations under the eighth order does not affect deadlines for filing appeals or other appellate proceedings, but the eighth order does note that such requests for relief should be “generously granted” by the particular court involved.
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