You may be wondering if you will miss a filing deadline for a Motion for New Trial or other motion if you efile it in Texas and the clerk rejects it.
Anyone who has tried to file a document on an efiling manager knows that sometimes the clerk unexpectedly rejects the document.
The Court of Appeals in Texas has made it clear that if you tried to efile it, then that counts for purposes of meeting the deadline.
Snippet from the following case:
“The record reflects that the Stewarts submitted their motion for filing through the court’s e-filing system on Friday, July 16, 2021, at 5:35 p.m.
However, as documented in a certified copy of the “envelope details,” the clerk’s office notified the Stewarts that the motion had been rejected on Monday, July 19, 2021, at 8:15 a.m., for the following reasons: “PDF documents combinedPlease separate Lead Documents.”
The clerk further stated in itsrejection notice: “Please Resubmit as separate Lead Documents.”
On July 23, 2021, the Stewarts resubmitted their motion and supporting documents, and the motion was accepted for filing by the clerk that same day.
The Whitelocks, however, contend that because the clerk did not initially accept the Stewarts’ motion for new trial on July 16, 2021, the day of the filing deadline, and because the Stewarts waited until July 23 to resubmit their filing, we should conclude that the motion was not timely filed and that the trial court therefore lost plenary jurisdiction to hear it.
We disagree. The e-filing rules in Texas provide that “a document is considered timely filed if it is electronically filed at any time before midnight (in the court’s time zone) on the filing deadline.” TEX. R. CIV. P. 21(f)(5). The rules further provide that an “electronically filed document is deemed The trial court was without authority to reject the filing, as Rule 21(f)(11) expressly provides that a “clerk may not refuse to file a document that fails to conform with this rule.” TEX. R. CIV. P. 21(f)(11). Instead, under Rule 21(f)(11), the clerk was to “identify the error to be corrected and state a deadline for the party to resubmit the document in a conforming format.” Id.; see also Nevarez Law Firm, P.C. , 610 S.W.3d at 570.
Here, while the clerk incorrectly rejected the filing due to formatting issues and failed to provide a deadline for resubmission, the Stewarts resubmitted the motion in the correct format within a reasonable time. We therefore conclude that the Stewarts’ motion for new trial was timely filed. See Nevarez Law Firm, P.C., 610 S.W.3d at 570-71 (party’s motion for new trial was timely filed where it was transmitted to the electronic filing service provider prior to the filing deadline but was wrongfully rejected by the clerk’s office, and later resubmitted in accordance with the clerk’s instructions); see also In re Barr, No. 05-19- 00511-CV, 2019 WL 2082468, at *2 (Tex. App.—Dallas May 13, 2019, no pet.) (mem. op.) (citing Warner v. Glass, 135 S.W.3d 681, 684 (Tex. 2004) (“Once a party has satisfied his duty to put a legal instrument in the custody and the control of the court clerk, he should not be penalized for errors made by the court clerk.”).
The Whitelocks also contend that the Stewarts failed to timely submit their filing fee along with their initial filing, but this does not appear to be the reason that the clerk rejected the filing. In any event, the failure to timely pay a filing fee does not deprive a trial court of jurisdiction to hear a motion for new trial; instead, the motion will be considered “conditionally filed” when submitted without payment and will be deemed filed on the day it was tendered to the clerk. See NA Land Co. v. State, 624 S.W.3d 671, 674 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2021, no pet.) (recognizing that “courts have routinely held a document is ‘filed’ when it is tendered to the clerk although a filing fee is not paid until a later date.”) (citing Jamar v. Patterson, 868 S.W.2d 318, 319 (Tex. 1993)); see also
In re Lewis, 185 S.W.3d 615, 617 (Tex. App.—Waco 2006, no pet.) (recognizing that if a motion for new trial is tendered to the clerk without the filing fee, the motion is “conditionally filed,” and the motion is deemed filed on the day it was tendered to the clerk for appellate timetable purposes). 9 filed when transmitted to the filing party’s electronic filing service provider.” Id.; see also NA Land Co., 624 S.W.3d at 674 (recognizing that a motion for new trial is filed at the time the motion is “transmitted the document to the electronic filing service provider” for purposes of establishing the appellate timetable); Nevarez Law Firm, P.C. v. Inv. Land Servs., L.L.C., 610 S.W.3d 567, 570 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2020, no pet.) (op. on reh’g) (recognizing same).