Beginning July 1, 2020, this Court will begin “in-person” non-essential proceedings in the County Court at Law. We will function pursuant to the Texas Supreme Court /Court of Criminal Appeals Emergency Orders, the Grimes County Administrative Judge’s COVID-19 Operating Plan for the Grimes County Judiciary and Court Guidance from the Office of Court Administration. You can find links to these Orders on the Home Page of the Court’s website.
To facilitate the protection of attorney’s, the public, defendants and court staff, attorneys are ORDERED to handle maters in such a fashion as to minimize “in person” appearances or any unnecessary court appearances. If a matter can be handled via email, video conference or means other than “in person” appearances, please do so.
However, the Court is aware that in many instances, an “in person” appearance will be required. To assist in accomplishing these goals, the Courts asks attorneys familiarize themselves with the COVID-19 Operating Plan for the Grimes County Judiciary.
The following requirements will be followed WHEN “IN PERSON” APPEARANCE IS REQUIRED:
THE COURT AND ITS STAFF WILL WORK WITH COUNSEL TO FACILITATE ALTERNATIVES TO IN PERSON APPEARANCES. IF YOU HAVE SUGGESTIONS OR REASONABLE REQUESTS TO AVOID AN “IN PERSON” APPEARANCE, PLEASE CONTACT THE STAFF AND LET THEM KNOW.
To minimize the necessity for “in person” proceedings, please practice the following procedures:
For cases set for Arraignment:
You are encouraged to waive arraignment in writing. Please include current contact information for your client to include cell phone number, email address in addition to physical and mailing address. Once the Court Coordinator receives your Waiver, she will reset your case for a pre-trial setting in approximately 30 days. It will be your responsibility to notify your client of the reset date. If you do not waive arraignment, you and your client must appear in person.
For cases set for Pre-trial:
Please contact the Court Coordinator sufficiently BEFORE your setting date to let the Coordinator know if you have need for an appearance. If you do not need an appearance or any action by the Court on pending pre-trial matters, the Court will reset your case for either Trial or an additional pre-trial. A first reset for pre-trial will be automatically approved. Any subsequent pre-trials setting will need to be justified before they will be granted.
For cases set for Status:
You may make an announcement as to the requested “status” via email to the Court and opposing counsel (status of DL, status of PTD, etc.). If you make such announcement, the Court will reset the case for the next setting (pre-trial, trial, plea, or additional status).
At this time, the Court does not know when settings for Jury Trial will resume. The Court will maintain a list of cases for trial setting and will notice counsel when these cases will be set.
Please work out pleas before Court. Have the DA’s Office prepare the paperwork before the date of appearance and email it to you to sign and approve. The defendant can sign the paperwork before Court and attest to his/her signature before the Clerk on the day of the plea. This can be done in person or via email. The plea itself can be conducted either by:
The Court will set smaller ancillary dockets to minimize the number of people appearing. This may necessitate additional ancillary dockets. The Court will most likely utilize dates currently set aside for Jury Trials for those additional dockets. We are open to suggestions to minimize the inconvenience on all of us do to the rules. If you have ideas on ways to streamline the process, are aware of tech features we can use, or you have any other suggestions, we are willing to listen
If you have been arrested or otherwise charged with a crime, your case may be heard in this Court. The County Court at Law has original jurisdiction of all Class A and Class B misdemeanors. For more information on communicating with this Court as a Self Represented Litigant/Pro se, go here.
If you have been retained to represent a client in this Court, Please send a Letter of Representation (LOR) to the County Clerk and copy the Court Coordinator and the District Attorney. In Grimes County, the DISTRICT ATTORNEY represents the State in all misdemeanors. Do not send correspondence to the County Attorney.
Criminal cases generally have at least 4 settings; Arraignment, Pre-Trial, Trial Announcement and Trial.
Your client will receive their initial appearance setting when they make bond. That date should be contained at the top of their bond papers. If their charges have not been filed by the appearance date, they should still appear to receive a new setting date.
Counsel may waive Arraignment in writing. The Court strongly advises the defendant to appear at arraignment to get a written notice of their next appearance. However, if counsel asks for the defendant to be excused from arraignment based on a Waiver, it will be incumbent upon the attorney to notify their client of next setting.
All cases will receive at least one pre-trial setting. This setting is to address any discovery issues that may encountered or argue any motions that can be argued in less than 15 minutes. If you need more time to argue a motion or require witnesses for a motion (Motions To Suppress, Motions to Quash, etc), you must file a setting request for that motion so that it can be set on a docket with sufficient time to hear any witnesses and address the arguments. THE COURT STRONGLY ADVISES COUNSEL TO SET THESE TYPES OF MOTIONS PRIOR TO TRIAL DATES. THE COURT DOES NOT PREFER TO CARRY MOTIONS IN TRIAL PARTICULARLY MOTIONS THAT MAY BE DISPOSITIVE OF THE CASE.
You may have more than one pre-trial setting. The Court will honor a request for a second pre-trial setting without explanation or reason. Requests for any pre-trial setting beyond the second must be explained to the Court.
TRIAL ANNOUNCEMENT AND TRIAL:
Cases will be given a Trial Announcement date within a week of Jury Trial setting. All counsel and parties must be present for the trial announcement. At trial announcement, cases will be given a trial order. The Court, at its discretion, may refuse plea bargains or Motions for Continuance filed after the Trial Announcement date wherein the parties have announced "Ready".
Jury Trials begin at 9:00 AM unless specifically provided otherwise. Jury will be selected and, unless the Court has otherwise agreed, will begin evidence immediately, at the conclusion of jury selection. All Elections for punishment must be timely filed prior to Voir Dire.
Please timely file your motions. If your motion requires evidence or substantial argument (more then 15 minutes), please file a setting request for a specific setting so the Court can have sufficient time to listen to witnesses and consider your arguments. If the evidence includes audio or videos, the Court would prefer to listen/watch the videos/audio PRIOR to the hearing. To assist in this, please notify the Court of any such evidence you intend to introduce.
If you file Motions for Discovery that may include information not normally in the actual possession of the District Attorney's Office (DPS Blood/Breath Records, Officer Employment Records, Other Court Records, etc.) please file those motions as early as possible. If counsel waits till the last minute to get these records, the Court will be less likely to give counsel time to acquire them if counsel has been dilatory in their request. The Court also suggests filing pre-trial subpoenas for these records to ensure the agency in actual possession is aware of the request and to allow the Court the power to make sure relevant records are provided to counsel in a timely manner.
HOW TO GET A SETTING DATE:
To look for potential setting dates, please go to the Court's Calendar. You may use any "Open Date" for setting. Please select 3 dates counsel is available. The Court strongly suggest you coordinate you selections with the prosecutor handling you case. File the Setting Request via e-file and the Court will set the matter on one of the selected dates.
Without an agreement, the Court will not consider a Bond Reduction/Writ of Habeas Corpus without the actual motion being timely filed with sufficient notice to the State. The Court will not hear impromptu oral motions for bond reductions at hearing scheduled for other matters. Please use the Criminal Setting Request to get a setting for a Bond Reduction/Writ of Habeas Corpus
It is the responsibility of Counsel to notify the Court of the need for a translator/Interpreter in sufficient time for the Court to schedule. Motions for Translators/Interpreters must be brought to the attention of the Court at Pre-Trial. As Grimes County does not have local interpreters readily available, counsel must make the appropriate request with sufficient notice to allow the Court to make arrangements. this includes any requests for pretrial hearings or trial.
Most misdemeanor criminal cases arise from an arrest by a local law enforcement agency (Grimes County Sheriff's Department, Navasota Police Department, Department of Public Safety, etc.).
Most defendants (someone accused of a crime) post some form of "bond" to be released from jail. This bond is to guarantee the defendant's future appearance at court. It is imperative that the address on this "bond" is a good address where you can receive mail. You should also provide a good email address and cell phone number. The Court will use this contact information to communicate with you concerning setting dates or changes in setting dates. If the mailing address, email and/or cell number is not good, you may not receive notice of changes in your court setting which may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest for failure to appear. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE THIS COURT HAS A GOOD CONTACT INFORMATION. If you change address, it is important, you notify this court and the County Clerk in writing of that change.
At the time of your release from jail, you will be given an appearance date. You must appear in Court on that date or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. At the appearance date you will either 1) be informed of the specific charges against you and the punishment range for those charges (this is called an arraignment), OR, 2) if your charges have not been formally filed by the State, you will be given another setting date in the future to appear, OR, 3) you will be informed that the charges have been changed or refused by the State.
You should have an attorney hired at this setting. If you do not believe you can afford an attorney, you may apply for a court appointed attorney. For more information on hiring an attorney, representing yourself or requesting a Court Appointed Attorney, go here.
After your release from jail on bond, the case is referred to the District Attorney's Office for review. The District Attorney determines if charges will be accepted as filed, changed or refused. That process can take from a few weeks to several months depending on the type of case and information, such as lab reports, needed. If the District Attorney determines that the charges should be filed as a misdemeanor, they will file what is called a "Complaint and Information" with the County Clerk. It is our goal to have this completed before your appearance date. If the Complaint and Information is not filed before your appearance date, you must still appear to get a new court date.
Prior to the filing of a complaint and information, this Court has very little information about the status of your case. It does very little good to call this office to ask us when the case will be filed.
If you change address or you discover your address on your bond is not a good address (ie: a physical address where you do not receive mail), you may send a letter with a change of address to this Court, the District Attorney's Office and the County Clerk. It is strongly recommended you also notify your bondsman of any changes of address. Any notices of change of address be done by Certified Mail with Return Receipt Requested.
Please understand, we do not have time to return calls for general information about your case and are prohibited by ethical rules from discussing your case. If you must communicate with the court, email or US Mail is advised. Please go to this link about communicating with the Court.
You best contact about court settings is an attorney or your bondsman. You paid the bondsman a fee to get you out of jail. It is also their responsibility to keep up with court setting and make sure you are aware of those settings. to do that, you must maintain contact with your bondsman.
If you posted a cash bond or were release on a personal recognizance bond, it is solely your responsibility to make sure the court can reach you.