Credit Card Lawsuits and the New Justice Court Rules
Written by Sharon K. Campbell

Justice Courts (Small Claims Courts) have jurisdiction to hear claims brought up to $10,000.

On August 31, 2013, a new set of rules applicable to Justice Courts became law. The rules were published and mandated by the Supreme Court of Texas.

Under the new rules, in small claims court, the Court is not bound by Rules of Civil Procedure or Rules of Evidence. Any and all evidence may be admitted and whether any other Rules will be enforced is anybody’s guess. Each Justice of the Peace may pick and choose which Rules he/she wishes to enforce in his/her Court and which Rules he/she does not wish to enforce. You may not know until you show up for trial what the Rules in that particular Court will be.

What does this mean if you have been sued by a debt buyer in Justice court?

The basis of many defenses to credit card lawsuits brought by debt buyers is that they cannot properly document their ownership of the particular account at issue, based on Texas law and the Rules of Evidence. Debt buyers are unable to prove the records they have are reliable or were used in a particular business. They cannot prove the authenticity of the records of the original creditor, nor the trail of assignments and sale between the original creditor to the debt buyer who is bringing the suit.

Under the new Rules, no requirement to follow the Rules of Evidence or any other Rules. In other words, no proof required. Anything goes. Justice courts may, and most likely, will rule for creditors no matter how weak the evidence.

Discovery must be approved by the Court and then it will only be limited. If the debt buyer does not properly respond to the discovery, for example, disclosing all their witnesses or producing documents, the normal procedure is to keep that evidence out. At least, that has been the rule for years under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Now, however, the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure will not be enforced unless the Justice of that particular Court wishes to enforce them. Each Justice of the Peace can pick and choose which Rules it wishes to use in its court.

So, credit card cases will be tougher to defend in Justice Court. Thankfully, the right to a de novo appeal to county court still exists and that is the answer. All the more reason to hire an attorney who is experienced in these matters to handle your case when you are sued by a debt buyer. If the case is appealed to County Court, the Court will have a real judge, who is a lawyer and who is bound by all Rules of Evidence and Rules of Civil Procedure.


Sharon K. Campbell, Attorney at Law
3500 Oak Lawn Ave
Suite 110
Dallas, Texas 75219

Phone: 214-351-3260
Fax: 214-443-6055

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