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TITLE 1ADMINISTRATION
PART 7STATE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
CHAPTER 155RULES OF PROCEDURE
SUBCHAPTER CFILING AND SERVICE OF DOCUMENTS
RULE §155.101Filing Documents

(a) Filing and service required.

  (1) All pleadings and other documents shall be filed using one of the methods described in this rule.

  (2) On the same date a document is filed, it shall also be served on all other parties as described in §155.105 of this chapter.

(b) Method and format of filing in all cases other than PUC and TCEQ cases, or matters referred for mediation.

  (1) Electronic Filing Required.

    (A) Except as otherwise provided in this subchapter, attorneys, state agencies, and other governmental entities are required to file all documents, including exhibits, electronically in the manner specified on SOAH's website, www.soah.texas.gov. SOAH may require parties to electronically file documents through the electronic filing manager established by the Office of Court Administration and an electronic filing service provider certified by the Office of Court Administration. Parties not represented by an attorney are strongly encouraged to electronically file documents but may use alternative methods of filing described in paragraph (2) of this subsection.

    (B) The electronic version of a document that has been electronically filed at SOAH shall be given the same legal status as the original document.

    (C) In addition to the other requirements of this rule, electronic filings must comply with all requirements and procedures set forth on SOAH's website and electronic filing page, and the applicable technology standards of the Judicial Committee on Information Technology if filed through the electronic filing manager established by the Office of Court Administration.

    (D) Formatting and submission. A document filed electronically must:

      (i) be legible and in text-searchable portable document format (PDF);

      (ii) be directly converted to PDF rather than scanned, to the extent possible;

      (iii) not be locked;

      (iv) include the email address of a party, attorney, or representative who electronically files the document;

      (v) be accompanied by the entry in the electronic filing manager of complete and accurate service contact information known to the parties at the time of filing, including the designation of lead counsel if the party is represented by counsel;

      (vi) include the SOAH docket number and the name of the case in which it is filed, if not attached to a pleading or document that already contains this information;

      (vii) be properly titled or described in the electronic filing manager in a manner that permits SOAH and the parties to reasonably ascertain its contents;

      (viii) if the document submitted for filing contains confidential information, comply with the requirements of §155.103 of this chapter and be submitted separately from public pleadings, exhibits, or filings to the extent possible;

      (ix) if the document submitted for filing is an exhibit, comply with the requirements of §155.429 of this chapter and be submitted separately from pleadings or other filings, unless the exhibit is attached as a necessary supporting document to a pleading; and

      (x) if the document submitted for filing is a motion, the motion will comply with the requirements of §155.305 of this chapter and be submitted separately from pleadings or other filings.

    (E) A pleading or document that is filed electronically is considered signed if the document includes an electronic signature.

    (F) Time of filing. Unless a document must be filed by a certain time of day, a document is considered timely filed if it is electronically filed at any time before midnight central time on the filing deadline. Once a document has been accepted for filing by SOAH, an electronically filed document is deemed filed on the date when transmitted to the filing party's electronic filing service provider, except:

      (i) if a document is transmitted on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, it is deemed filed on the next business day; and

      (ii) if a document requires a motion and an order allowing its filing, the document is deemed filed on the date that the motion is granted.

      (iii) If the deadline required for filing a document in an IDEA special education due process proceeding falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, then clause (i) of this subparagraph does not apply and the document is deemed filed on the date when transmitted to the filing party's electronic filing service provider.

    (G) Documents offered at a hearing.

      (i) Any documents, including written testimony and exhibits, offered at a hearing that were not otherwise filed as part of the record shall be filed electronically.

      (ii) If the judge sustained an evidentiary objection to a document offered at a hearing that resulted in exclusion of the document, then the excluded document shall be filed in accordance with this section only if there was an offer of proof.

      (iii) Documents required to be filed by this section shall be filed electronically by not later than the next business day after the conclusion of the hearing at which they were offered, unless otherwise ordered by the judge.

  (2) Filings by unrepresented parties.

    (A) Parties who are not represented by an attorney may file documents using any of the following methods:

      (i) electronically, in the manner and subject to the requirements specified in paragraph (1) of this subsection and on SOAH's website, www.soah.texas.gov;

      (ii) by mail addressed to SOAH at P.O. Box 13025, Austin, Texas 78711-3025;

      (iii) by hand-delivery to SOAH at 300 West 15th Street, Room 504;

      (iv) by fax to the appropriate SOAH office location; or

      (v) at the SOAH field office where the case is assigned, using the field office address available at SOAH's website.

    (B) All documents filed by unrepresented parties must:

      (i) include the SOAH docket number and the name of the case in which it is filed;

      (ii) include the party's mailing address, email address (if available), and telephone number;

      (iii) comply with the requirements of §155.103 of this chapter if the document submitted for filing contains confidential information; and

      (iv) comply with the requirements of §155.429 of this chapter if the document submitted for filing is an exhibit.

    (C) Time of filing for documents not filed electronically. With respect to documents filed by mail, fax, or hand-delivery, the time and date of filing shall be determined by the file stamp affixed by SOAH. Documents received after 5:00 p.m. or when SOAH is closed shall be deemed filed the next business day.

  (3) Filing Errors.

    (A) Filers shall attempt, in good faith, to resolve filing and service errors in accordance with requisite standards of conduct and decorum towards counsel, opposing parties, the judge, and members of SOAH staff, including through timely correction and resubmission of any non-conforming documents.

    (B) Non-conforming documents. SOAH's docketing department may not refuse to file a document that fails to conform with this rule. When a filed document fails to conform to this rule, the presiding judge or SOAH's docketing department may identify the errors to be corrected and state a deadline for the person, attorney, or agency to resubmit the document in conforming format.

    (C) SOAH shall not be responsible for user or system errors of the filing party occurring in the electronic filing, transmission, or service of electronically filed documents.

    (D) Technical failure. If a document is untimely due to a technical failure or a system outage, the filing party may seek appropriate relief from the presiding judge. If the missed deadline is one imposed by SOAH's electronic filing rules, the filing party must be given a reasonable extension of time to complete the filing.

  (4) For good cause, a judge may permit a party to file documents in paper or another acceptable form in a particular case.

(c) Method of filing in cases referred by the PUC.

  (1) Except for exhibits offered at a prehearing conference or hearing, the original of all documents shall be filed at the PUC in accordance with the PUC rules.

  (2) The party filing a document with the PUC (except documents provided in the discovery process that are not the subject of motions filed in a discovery dispute) shall serve the judge with electronic or hard copies of the document upon request or order of the judge.

  (3) The court reporter shall provide the transcript and exhibits to the judge at the same time the transcript is provided to the requesting party. SOAH shall maintain the transcript and exhibits until they are released to the PUC by the judge. If no court reporter was requested by a party, SOAH shall maintain the recording of the hearing and the exhibits until they are released to the PUC by the judge.

(d) Method of filing in cases referred by the TCEQ.

  (1) Except for exhibits offered at a prehearing conference or hearing, the original of all documents shall be filed with the TCEQ's chief clerk in accordance with the TCEQ rules.

  (2) The time and date of filing of these materials shall be determined by the file stamp affixed by the chief clerk, or as evidenced by the file stamp affixed to the document or envelope by the TCEQ mail room, whichever is earlier.

  (3) The party filing a document with the TCEQ (except documents provided in the discovery process that are not the subject of motions filed in a discovery dispute) shall serve the judge with a copy of the document by delivery to SOAH on the same day as the filing by electronically filing the document in accordance with the method and format required by subsection (b) of this section.

  (4) The court reporter shall provide the transcript and exhibits to the judge at the time the transcript is provided to the requesting party. SOAH shall maintain the transcript and exhibits until they are released to the TCEQ by the judge. If no court reporter was requested by a party, SOAH shall maintain the recording of the hearing and the exhibits until they are released to the TCEQ by the judge.

(e) Method of filing in matters referred for mediation or mediator evaluation.

  (1) Documents or communications relating to matters referred for mediation, or for evaluation by a mediator to determine if mediation is appropriate, shall not be filed with SOAH's docketing department, except to the extent the following items are required for SOAH's administration of alternative dispute resolution procedures:

    (A) A request for ADR as described in §155.53 of this chapter, if the matter is initially referred for mediation only;

    (B) An order of the judge referring a case for evaluation or mediation, if the matter was initially referred for a contested case hearing;

    (C) Any letter or notice issued by a SOAH mediator, providing the parties with notice of assignment of a SOAH mediator and/or setting the date and time for the evaluation or mediation;

    (D) Any motion or other request of the parties seeking cancellation of the evaluation or mediation;

    (E) The mediator's report, which shall include only the information as described in §155.351(f)(3) of this chapter;

    (F) The evaluator's written recommendation described in §155.351(b)(3) of this chapter; and

    (G) Any administrative dismissal of the matter from SOAH's docket.

  (2) Documents filed with SOAH's docketing department as described in paragraph (1) of this subsection are subject to public disclosure, and shall not contain any confidential information relating to the subject matter of the dispute.

  (3) All other documents or communications relating to the mediation or evaluation, except those described in paragraph (1) of this subsection, must be provided to the SOAH mediator and/or exchanged between the parties in a manner approved by the SOAH mediator.


Source Note: The provisions of this §155.101 adopted to be effective January 1, 2017, 41 TexReg 8593; amended to be effective September 8, 2019, 44 TexReg 4691; amended to be effective November 29, 2020, 45 TexReg 8295; amended to be effective September 1, 2021, 46 TexReg 5381

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