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Eastern District of Texas

Honorable Rodney Gilstrap, Chief Judge
David A. O'Toole, Clerk of Court

  • How do I file a suit in Federal Court?
  • How do I file after hours?

    The CM/ECF system is available 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week which allows for the electronic filing of documents and pleadings at any time.  

  • Who is authorized to issue a subpoena in a Civil case?

    A subpoena must be issued from the court where the case is pending (by an attorney who is authorized to practice in the court where the case is pending [including one appearing pro hac vice], or by the clerk, who may issue a subpoena to a party requesting it in blank, who must fill it out before service). It may be served anywhere in the United States, and it must command that the deposition, production, or inspection take place within 100 miles (or in limited instances within the state) where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person.

  • Who issues and serves summonses?

    The Clerk's Office issues summonses. In general, the plaintiff is responsible for service, which may be effected by anyone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the suit. Please see Fed. R. Civ. P. 4. The U.S. Marshal Service will serve a summons if ordered to do so by a judge.

  • May I submit filings via fax or email?

    No. Pursuant to LR CV-5(a), documents must be electronically filed (“e-filed”) in the CM/ECF system, unless the filing is exempt from this requirement under LR CV-5(a)(1). The following documents are exempt: documents filed by the government in criminal cases outlined LR CV-5(a)(1)(A), documents filed by pro se litigants (LR CV-5(a)1(B)), official administrative records and transcripts described in LR CV-5(a)(1)(C), and sealed civil complaints (LR CV-5(a)1(D)). Exempt filings should be filed in paper unless an alternative method is specifically authorized for a particular filing in a particular case. Filings received by fax or email without prior authorization will not be processed, including those transmitted by a pro se litigant. To submit your filings in paper, mail them to the division where the case is proceeding or will proceed. See the court’s directory available here.

  • What is a deficient filing?

    A document may be found deficient if the filing does not conform to the Federal and/or Local Rules. When a document is found deficient, a deputy clerk will send an e-mail to the attorney of record stating the reason for the deficiency and instructions on how to correct the deficiency.

  • What is the significance of the number and letter in my case number?

    Each action is assigned a case number by the District Clerk's Office. The case number is composed of five parts. The first digit is the division where the case was filed (1 = Beaumont, 2 = Marshall, 4 = Sherman, 5 = Texarkana, 6 = Tyler, 9 = Lufkin). After the division number and colon is the year the case was filed (e.g., 98, 99). The abbreviation for the case type is next (cv = civil, cr = criminal, mc = miscellaneous).

    Sample Case Number: 3:08-CV-0001


  • How are judges assigned to cases?

    In divisions with more than one judge, they are randomly chosen by a computer database, similar to a deck of cards. When one judge is assigned, the "cards" are shuffled again for the next selection. The Clerk's Office has no discretion in the assignment of cases.

  • What is the current filing fee for a new suit?

    Please refer to the court's Fee Schedule for a list of fees for new suits.

  • How many copies of each document do I file?

    If you are filing electronically, copy requirements vary by judge.  Please see the Judges' Copy Requirements for Electronic Filing.

    If you are filing on paper, an original plus one copy is required. The Clerk's Office will retain the original for the case file and send a copy to the judge. If you want a file-stamped copy for your records, submit an additional copy (i.e., an original plus two copies).

  • How much is a witness fee?

    Please refer to 28 USC § 1821.  You may also click on the following links to view current mileage and maximum subsistence allowances.