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People’s Court, Justice Court consolidated

September 5, 2013

The “People's Court” is no more.

Texas' Supreme Court abolished Small Claims Court effective Aug. 31 and restructured portions of the Texas Government Code, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and Texas Property Code to accommodate new rules for Justice Court cases which became effective Sept. 1.

In the past, while Small Claims Court and Justice Civil Court were held in the same courtroom with the same justice of the peace presiding, they were in fact very different courts with different rules.

Texas Small Claims court, known as “The People’s Court,” was designed for “pro se” litigants; for people representing themselves without an attorney. The presiding justice had the right and responsibility to ask questions to develop the facts of the case in the interest of justice. Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Evidence did not apply.

Justice Court was a more formal court; rules of civil procedure, evidence and discovery applied and attorneys were usually present. This court included evictions court, which is governed by the Texas Property Code: Landlord and Tenant Rights.

Now, the state supreme court has consolidated these courts into one Justice Court with new rules. The rules of civil procedure and evidence apply only as the judge permits.

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