Helping Trial Lawyers Navigate the Appellate System

Extensions of Time in the Third Court

Dealing with the ever-present problem of conflicting deadlines, I recently filed a motion for extension of time to file a reply brief in the Third Court of Appeals here in Austin.  My opponent kindly agreed to a 30-day extension, which I determined would be more than sufficient to get the brief done and manage my other cases.

Several days later, I was surprised to receive a notice from the Court that my motion had been granted “in part” and that I would be receiving an additional 20 days—rather than the 30 I had asked for—to file my brief.

I happened to speak to a long-time acquaintance in the clerk’s office today, and he explained that the Court is tightening up on extensions somewhat.  In the past, the clerk’s office had authority to grant first and second extensions for up to 90 days total.  That authority has been scaled back to 60 days—apparently in an effort to keep the Court’s docket moving.  Further extensions are possible, but will require that one of the justices grant the additional time.

I don’t quite understand this move.  From everything I’ve seen and heard, the speed at which documents are coming in isn’t an issue; it’s the pace at which decisions are being put out.  Nevertheless, Third Court practitioners should be aware that the extensions we so often take for granted might not be as certain under this new policy.

D. Todd Smith
About the Author

D. Todd Smith is an Austin-based civil appellate specialist who works with trial teams from the earliest stages of litigation. In trial courts, he takes the lead on strategic analysis and briefing, jury charges, and potentially dispositive motions, all with a focus on preserving error and positioning cases for appellate review.

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