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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

Eastern District of Texas

Judge Ron Clark, Chief Judge
David A. O'Toole, Clerk of Court

Attorney Rules

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Effective May 24, 2016
  • LOCAL RULE AT-1 Admission to Practice

    (a)  An attorney who has been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, a United States Court of Appeals, a United States District Court, or the highest court of a state, is eligible for admission to the bar of this court.  He or she must be of good moral and professional character and must be a member in good standing of the state and federal bars in which he or she is licensed.

    (b)  Each applicant shall file an application on a form prescribed by the court.  If the applicant has previously been subject to disciplinary proceedings, full information about the proceedings, the charges, and the result must be given.

    (1)  A motion for admission made by a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas or the bar of any United States District Court shall accompany the completed admission form.  The movant must state that the applicant is competent to practice before this court and is of good personal and professional character.

    (2)  The applicant must state in the application that he or she has read Local Rule AT-3, the “Standards of Practice to be Observed by Attorneys,” and the local rules of this court and that he or she will comply with the standards of practice adopted in Local Rule AT-3 and with the local rules.

    (3)  The applicant must provide with the application form an oath of admission signed in the presence of a notary public on a form prescribed by the court.  The completed application for admission, motion for admission, and oath of admission shall be submitted to the court, along with the admission fee required by law and any other fee required by the court.  Upon investigation of the fitness, competency, and qualifications of the applicant, the completed application form may be granted or denied by the clerk subject to the oversight of the chief judge.

    (c)  The clerk shall maintain a complete list of all attorneys who have been admitted to practice before the court.

    (d) An attorney who is not admitted to practice before this court may appear for or represent a party in any case in this court only upon an approved application to appear pro hac vice.  When an attorney who is not a member of the bar of this court appears in any case before this court, he or she shall first submit electronically an application to appear pro hac vice with the clerk of court.  The applicant must read and comply with Local Rule AT-3, the “Standards of Practice to Be Observed by Attorneys,” and the local rules of this court.  The application shall be made using the form that is available on the court’s website and must be signed by the applicant personally.  Detailed instructions on how to e-file the application appear on the court’s website, located at www.txed.uscourts.gov.   Such application also shall be accompanied by a $100.00 local fee, which must be paid electronically.  Any attachments to pro hac vice applications will be handled as electronic sealed documents by the clerk’s office.  The application shall be acted upon with dispatch by the clerk on the court’s behalf.  The clerk shall notify the applicant as soon as possible after the application is acted upon.

    (e)  Federal Government Attorneys. No bar admission fees shall be charged to attorneys who work for the United States government, including Assistant U. S. Attorneys, Assistant Federal Public Defenders, and CJA Panel attorneys. Bar admission fees cannot be waived for federal law clerks, however, as they do not appear in court on behalf of the United States but instead perform job duties that do not require admission to practice in the court. The clerk's office has no authority to waive bar admission fees for attorneys who work for state, county, or city governments.

  • LOCAL RULE AT-2 Attorney Discipline

    (a)  Generally.  The standards of professional conduct adopted as part of the Rules Governing the State Bar of Texas shall serve as a guide governing the obligations and responsibilities of all attorneys appearing in this court.  It is recognized, however, that no set of rules may be framed which will particularize all the duties of the attorney in the varying phases of litigation or in all the relations of professional life.  Therefore, the attorney practicing in this court should be familiar with the duties and obligations imposed upon members of this bar by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, court decisions, statutes, and the usages customs and practices of this bar.

    (b) Disciplinary Action Initiated in Other Courts.

    (1)  A member of the bar of this court shall automatically lose his or her membership if he or she loses, either temporarily or permanently, the right to practice law before any state or federal court for any reason other than nonpayment of dues, failure to meet continuing legal education requirements, or voluntary resignation unrelated to a disciplinary proceeding or problem.

    (2)  When it is shown to the court that a member of its bar has been either disbarred or suspended, the clerk shall enter an order for the court, effective fourteen days after issuance unless sooner modified or stayed, disbarring or suspending the member from practice in this court upon terms and conditions identical to those set forth in the order of the other court.

    (3)  A member of this bar who has lost the right to practice law before any state or federal court, either permanently or temporarily, must advise the clerk of that fact within thirty days of the effective date of the disciplinary action.  The clerk will thereafter enter a reciprocal order effective in the courts of this district.

    (c)  Conviction of a Crime.  A member of the bar of this court who is convicted of a felony offense in any state or federal court will be immediately and automatically suspended from practice and thereafter disbarred upon final conviction.

    (d) Disciplinary Action Initiated in this Court.

    (1)  Grounds for Disciplinary Action.  This court may, after an attorney has been given an opportunity to show cause to the contrary, take any appropriate disciplinary action against any attorney:

    (A) for conduct unbecoming a member of the bar;

    (B) for failure to comply with these local rules or any other rule or order of this court;

    (C) for unethical behavior;

    (D) for inability to conduct litigation properly; or

    (E) because of conviction by any court of a misdemeanor offense involving dishonesty or     false statement.

    (2)  Disciplinary Procedures.

    (A) When it is shown to a judge of this court that an attorney has engaged in conduct which might warrant disciplinary action involving suspension or disbarment, the judge receiving the information shall bring the matter to the attention of the chief judge, who will poll the full court as to whether disciplinary proceedings should be held.  If the court determines that further disciplinary proceedings are necessary, the disciplinary matter will be assigned to the chief judge, or a judge designated by the chief judge, who will notify the lawyer of the charges and give the lawyer opportunity to show good cause why he or she should not be suspended or disbarred.  Upon the charged lawyer’s response to the order to show cause, and after a hearing before the chief judge or a judge designated by the chief judge, if requested, or upon expiration of the time prescribed for a response if no response is made, the chief judge or a judge designate by the chief judge, shall enter an appropriate order.

    (B) At any hearing before the chief judge or a judge designated by the chief judge, the charged lawyer shall have the right to counsel and at least fourteen days’ notice of the time of the hearing and charges.  Prosecution of the charges may be conducted by an attorney specially appointed by the court.  Costs of the prosecutor and any fees allowed by the court shall be paid from the attorney admission fee fund.

    (e)  Notification of Disciplinary Action.  Upon final disciplinary action by the court, the clerk shall send certified copies of the court’s order to the State Bar of Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the National Discipline Data Bank operated by the American Bar Association.

    (f)  Reinstatement.  Any lawyer who is suspended by this court is automatically reinstated to practice at the end of the period of suspension, provided that the bar membership fee required by Local Rule AT-1(b)(3) has been paid.  Any lawyer who is disbarred by this court may not apply for reinstatement for at least three years from the effective date of his or her disbarment.  Petitions for reinstatement shall be sent to the clerk and assigned to the chief judge for a ruling.  Petitions for reinstatement must include a full disclosure concerning the attorney’s loss of bar membership in this court and any subsequent felony convictions or disciplinary actions that may have occurred in other federal or state courts.

  • LOCAL RULE AT-3 Standards of Practice to be Observed by Attorneys

    Attorneys who appear in civil and criminal cases in this court shall comply with the following standards of practice in this district:[1]

    (A) In fulfilling his or her primary duty to the client, a lawyer must be ever conscious of       the broader duty to the judicial system that serves both attorney and client.

    (B) A lawyer owes, to the judiciary, candor, diligence, and utmost respect.

    (C) A lawyer owes, to opposing counsel, a duty of courtesy and cooperation, the observance of which is necessary for the efficient administration of our system of justice and the respect of the public it serves.

    (D)  A lawyer unquestionably owes, to the administration of justice, the fundamental duties of personal dignity and professional integrity.

    (E) Lawyers should treat each other, the opposing party, the court, and members of the court staff with courtesy and civility and conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.

    (F) A client has no right to demand that counsel abuse the opposite party or indulge in offensive conduct.  A lawyer shall always treat adverse witnesses and suitors with fairness and due consideration.

    (G) In adversary proceedings, clients are litigants and though ill feeling may exist between clients, such ill feeling should not influence a lawyer’s conduct, attitude, or demeanor toward opposing lawyers.

    (H) A lawyer should not use any form of discovery or the scheduling of discovery as a means of harassing opposing counsel or counsel’s client.

    (I) Lawyers will be punctual in communications with others and in honoring scheduled  appearances and will recognize that neglect and tardiness are demeaning to the lawyer  and to the judicial system.

    (J) If a fellow member of the bar makes a just request for cooperation or seeks scheduling accommodation, a lawyer will not arbitrarily or unreasonably withhold consent.  The court is not bound to accept agreements of counsel to extend deadlines imposed by rule or court order.

    (K) Effective advocacy does not require antagonistic or obnoxious behavior, and  members of the bar will adhere to the higher standard of conduct which judges, lawyers, clients, and the public may rightfully expect.

    (L) The court also encourages attorneys to be familiar with the Codes of Pretrial and Trial Conduct promulgated by the American College of Trial Lawyers, which can be found on the court’s website, located at www.txed.uscourts.gov, and to conduct themselves accordingly.