|1997 Rules of Appellate Procedure|
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RULE 20. WHEN PARTY IS INDIGENT
20.1 Civil Cases.
(a) Establishing indigence . A party who cannot pay the costs in an appellate court may proceed without advance payment of costs if:
(1) the party files an affidavit of indigence in compliance with this rule;
(2) the claim of indigence is not contested or, if contested, the contest is not sustained by written order; and
(3 the party timely files a notice of appeal.
(b) Contents of affidavit . The affidavit of indigence must identify the party filing the affidavit and must state what amount of costs, if any, the party can pay. The affidavit must also contain complete information about:
(1) the nature and amount of the party's current employment income, government-entitlement income, and other income;
(2) the income of the party's spouse and whether that income is available to the party;
(3) real and personal property the party owns;
(4) cash the party holds and amounts on deposit that the party may withdraw;
(5) the party's other assets;
(6) the number and relationship to the party of any dependents;
(7) the nature and amount of the party's debts;
(8) the nature and amount of the party's monthly expenses;
(9) the partys ability to obtain a loan for court costs;
(10) whether an attorney is providing free legal services to the party without a contingent fee; and
(11) whether an attorney has agreed to pay or advance court costs.
(c) When and where affidavit filed .
(1) Appeals. An appellant must file the affidavit of indigence in the trial court with or before the notice of appeal. An appellee who is required to pay part of the cost of preparation of the record under Rule 34.5(b)(3) or 34.6(c)(3) must file an affidavit of indigence in the trial court within 15 days after the date when the appellee becomes responsible for paying that cost.
(2) Other proceedings. In any other appellate court proceeding, a petitioner must file the affidavit of indigence in the court in which the proceeding is filed, with or before the document seeking relief. A respondent who requests preparation of a record in connection with an appellate court proceeding must file an affidavit of indigence in the appellate court within 15 days after the date when the respondent requests preparation of the record.
(3) Extension of time. The appellate court may extend the time to file an affidavit of indigence if, within 15 days after the deadline for filing the affidavit, the party files in the appellate court a motion complying with Rule 10.5(b).
(d) Duty of clerk .
(1) Trial court clerk. If the affidavit of indigence is filed with the trial court clerk under (c)(1), the clerk must promptly send a copy of the affidavit to the appropriate court reporter.
(2) Appellate court clerk. If the affidavit of indigence is filed with the appellate court clerk under (c)(2) and if the filing party is requesting the preparation of a record, the appellate court clerk must:
(A) send a copy of the affidavit to the trial court clerk and the appropriate court reporter; and
(B) send to the trial court clerk, the court reporter, and all parties, a notice stating the deadline for filing a contest to the affidavit of indigence.
(e) Contest to affidavit . The clerk, the court reporter, or any party may challenge the claim of indigence by filing in the court in which the affidavit was filed a contest to the affidavit. The contest must be filed on or before the date set by the clerk if the affidavit was filed in the appellate court, or within 10 days after the date when the affidavit was filed if the affidavit was filed in the trial court. The contest need not be sworn.
(f) No contest filed . Unless a contest is timely filed, no hearing will be conducted, the affidavit's allegations will be deemed true, and the party will be allowed to proceed without advance payment of costs.
(g) Burden of proof . If a contest is filed, the party who filed the affidavit of indigence must prove the affidavit's allegations. If the indigent party is incarcerated at the time the hearing on a contest is held, the affidavit must be considered as evidence and is sufficient to meet the indigent partys burden to present evidence without the indigent partys attending the hearing.
(h) Decision in appellate court . If the affidavit of indigence is filed in an appellate court and a contest is filed, the court may:
(1) conduct a hearing and decide the contest;
(2) decide the contest based on the affidavit and any other timely filed documents;
(3) request the written submission of additional evidence and, without conducting a hearing, decide the contest based on the evidence; or
(4) refer the matter to the trial court with instructions to hear evidence and grant the appropriate relief.
(i) Hearing and decision in the trial court .
(1) Notice required. If the affidavit of indigence is filed in the trial court and a contest is filed, or if the appellate court refers a contest to the trial court, the trial court must set a hearing and notify the parties and the appropriate court reporter of the setting.
(2) Time for hearing. The trial court must either conduct a hearing or sign an order extending the time to conduct a hearing:
(A) within 10 days after the contest was filed, if initially filed in the trial court; or
(B) within 10 days after the trial court received a contest referred from the appellate court.
(3) Extension of time for hearing. The time for conducting a hearing on the contest must not be extended for more than 20 days from the date the order is signed.
(4) Time for written decision; effect. Unless within the period set for the hearing the trial court signs an order sustaining the contest, the affidavit's allegations will be deemed true, and the party will be allowed to proceed without advance payment of costs.
(j) Record to be prepared without prepayment . If a party establishes indigence, the trial court clerk and the court reporter must prepare the appellate record without prepayment.
(k) Partial payment of costs . If the party can pay or give security for some of the costs, the court must order the party, in writing, to pay or give security, or both, to the extent of the party's ability. The court will allocate the payment among the officials to whom payment is due.
(l) Later ability to pay . If a party who has proceeded in the appellate court without having to pay all the costs is later able to pay some or all of the costs, the appellate court may order the party to pay costs to the extent of the party's ability.
(m) Costs defined . As used in this rule, costs means:
(1) a filing fee relating to the case in which the affidavit of inability is filed; and
(2) the charges for preparing the appellate record in that case.
20.2 Criminal Cases. Within the time for perfecting the appeal, an appellant who is unable to pay for the appellate record may, by motion and affidavit, ask the trial court to have the appellate record furnished without charge. If after hearing the motion the court finds that the appellant cannot pay or give security for the appellate record, the court must order the reporter to transcribe the proceedings. When the court certifies that the appellate record has been furnished to the appellant, the reporter must be paid from the general funds of the county in which the offense was committed, in the amount set by the trial court.
Notes and Comments
Comment to 1997 change: The rule is new and combines the provisions of former Rules 13(k), 40(a)(3), and 53(j). The procedure for proceeding in civil cases in an appellate court without advance payment of costs, in both appeals and original proceedings, is stated. The information that must be given in the affidavit is prescribed. An extension of time to file the affidavit is now available. The indigent party is no longer required to serve the court reporter, but must file the affidavit with the appropriate clerk who is to notify the court reporter. A contest need not be under oath. Provision is made for later ability to pay the costs. Nonsubstantive changes are made to the rule for criminal cases.
See also Civil Practice and Remedies Code 13.003.
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Last modified: March 25, 2010