As was explained in the previous blog, if you have been served with a lawsuit in a Texas district court or county court, in most cases your answer is due on or before 10:00am the Monday next following the expiration of 20 days. What happens, then, if the Monday your answer is due turns out to be Labor Day and the courthouse is closed?
When the courthouse is closed for business on the Monday your answer is due, the deadline for answering is extended to the next business day when the courthouse is open, usually Tuesday (but not always Tuesday – see last paragraph below). Interestingly, according to Rule 4 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, when the answer due date is delayed in this manner, the answer is no longer due by 10:00am either – the deadline will extend until the end of the business day. This time will vary, as some courthouses stay open until 5:00pm; others may close earlier in the afternoon.
But remember this is an answer deadline, not a dental appointment. You can always file your answer earlier than the deadline. Some would say it is advisable to do so. (That way, if you should break your leg on the day the answer is due, you don’t have to choose between hobbling to the hospital or the courthouse, since your answer has already been filed.)
In Texas courts, as well as most other states, Monday holidays are not an uncommon occurrence. We have five national holidays that always fall on a Monday (Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day), and several other holidays which occasionally fall on, or may be observed on, a Monday as well (Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day).
But beware – just because the banks are closed doesn’t mean that the courthouse is closed. In Tarrant County, for example, the banks may be closed on Columbus Day or Veteran’s Day, but the courthouse is not.
And just because the courthouse in Tarrant County may be closed for a particular holiday doesn’t mean that the courthouse in Dallas County is closed. The County Commissioners in each of the 254 counties in Texas establish their own county holidays which dictate when the courthouse is open or closed in that particular county.
If the courthouse is closed for a reason other than a holiday – inclement weather, for example – then the next business day when the courthouse is open may not be a Tuesday. If a hurricane hits Galveston County on a Sunday, the courthouse will likely be closed on Monday and might not be open again until Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of that week. In those cases it becomes important to check the status of that courthouse on a daily basis to determine when it will open again for business in order to determine when the answer is due.
— Bonnie Sudderth, Judge of the 352nd District Court of Tarrant County, Texas