As part of my series of articles for the Texas Lawyer, I decided a great topic would be based on what I saw after reviewing hundreds of motions over the years while a staff attorney in Travis County District Courts. I learned a lot simply based on what I read and reviewed, and am happy to share some tips.
One big thing I consistently noticed was that attorneys were outlining the entire case history first, then the issue at hand with the legal citations, then finally the conclusion, and hopefully what the attorney wanted from the Judge in the prayer. Of course, I would imagine some attorneys are trying to outline the history of the case as a background for a Judge that may have never reviewed any part of the case since Travis County District Court is a central docket. However, while that might be an important step, including a simple statement or prayer up front is going to put the Judge in the right frame of reference right from the start.
Even for a simple motion, the best thing you can do in Travis County District Courts and for a central docket system is lay out exactly what you want up front. Many times I had to flip to the last page to determine the purpose of the motion after reading through and not fully understanding where the motion was going.
I absolutely loved motions that stated a brief, concise sentence or two outlining what the prayer was on the first page. Since these judges and staff attorneys may only have a brief moment to review your material before a hearing, it’s best for you and your client to keep things simple. Don’t make them jump through hoops to find out what you’re requesting – include it first!
In addition to the prayer up front, I include other tips as well: Why PIRAC? Tips for Motion Practice in Travis County.
Let me know in the comments what other tips you would add!