I've filed pro se motions in traffic cases before, but this case has me stumped. I was stopped and ticketed for a minor traffic violation of texting while driving and received a court date. When I went in the clerk refused to let me (EDIT: have a hearing), and refused to give me any documentation proving I had been there. Same thing when I came back a month later. Now I'm getting written notices from a law firm to pay the fine.

My limited experience led me to think the court clerk can always be trusted. Should I try to file a motion to continuance, or maybe motion to appeal? Maybe by certified mail?

UPDATE: I called the court today (Nov 26) and was told there is no trial set so they will call or email me in January to set the date for a trial. This seems really weird for a months-old case but I guess you have no recourse if the court refuses to set a date for any hearing repeatedly? As far as I can tell the county courts have jurisdiction over the Justice of the Peace courts in texas, but if there's no final judgment then no appeal can be filed.

  • 3
    Why do you think you have the right to an ex parte meeting with a judge or prosecutor? Why do you think that a note from the clerk saying "I saw this guy" has bearing on your fines; and why are you getting letters from a law firm? Why did you not already file your motions?
    – user6726
    Nov 26 '19 at 17:37
  • 1
    "the clerk refused to let me talk to the prosecutor or the judge": this seems normal to me. If you were a lawyer, making that request would raise major questions about your competency. One party of a case talking to a judge is called an "ex parte" communication, and generally is not allowed (and is a BIG DEAL if it does happen); Court clerks don't control access to the prosecutor, they are not part of the court system but rather part of the district attorney's office.
    – sharur
    Nov 26 '19 at 17:49
  • I don't know how it is in other states but in Texas you have a pre-trial hearing where you generally negotiate with the prosecutor before going to a bench or jury trial. That's why I was summoned, for a pre-trial hearing that wasn't allowed to happen. Nov 26 '19 at 19:33
  • "When I went in..." Was this on the pre-assigned court date? What was the Clerk going to have you do, if you had just "gone with the flow"? What specifically did you want to do instead?
    – Damila
    Nov 26 '19 at 21:18
  • The ticket summoned me to appear on X date for a pre-trial hearing. The Clerk told me to go away and they'd contact me later about the trial date. I wanted a date for a hearing or trial. Nov 26 '19 at 23:09

The court clerk was right. A judge is not supposed to interact with a party (at least not in the absence of the adversary) except during court hearings for which the adversary was notified and given an opportunity to attend.

Also, there is no need for you to prove the mere fact that you went to court. That in itself is either inconsequential or palpable from the hearing transcripts.

When you file in court papers such as a motion or a response to a motion, you may --and should-- bring an extra copy for the clerk to stamp it. That a clerk does with no objections. The stamp reflects the date on which you file your document(s). That stamp incidentally evidences that you or someone on your behalf went to court but, again, that sole fact is inconsequential.

There is no such thing as "motion to appeal". A litigant may initiate an appeal, or appellate process, once the judge has decided a case in its entirety or in part. If the ruling to be appealed does not close the case, the upper court might refuse to review the issue(s) appealed until the whole case has been decided (that refusal is known as denial of the appellant's leave to appeal). Your description nowhere indicates that the judge has already made any rulings or that there have been any hearings on your matter.

Your mention of prior motions suggests that you should gain acquaintance with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and of Appellate Procedure. Those rules cover several aspects of litigation, including motion practice, the allowed methods of service, and the requirements to file an appeal in upper courts.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Dale M
    Nov 27 '19 at 4:46

If you are receiving notices to pay, you did not attend the court date and a judgement was entered against you because you were not there.

The prosecutor not talking to you doesn't mean you don't show up for court. You go to court and present your side there. That's the reason he/she didn't talk to you; you were expected to present whatever you wanted to tell him/her in court.

At this point, you have to pay the fine. If you didn't go to court and you didn't object to anything there, you have no standing to appeal. In most cases, the appeals courts ask that you have objected to whatever wrong was committed in court. As you didn't show up, the only person who is at fault is you in this instance.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Dale M
    Nov 27 '19 at 4:46

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