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425th District Court
405 M.L.K. Street
Georgetown, TX 78626
Phone: (512) 943-3380
Fax: (512) 943-3383
Click here for directions

Judge Betsy Lambeth
425th District Court Judge
Phone: (512) 943-3380 

 
425th District Court Judge Betsy Lambeth

Judge LambethJudge Betsy Figer Lambeth is a fifth-generation Texan. She received her undergraduate decree from the University of Texas in Austin and her law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. She was elected the first female district judge in Williamson County on November 6, 2012.

Judge Lambeth was in private practice for 27 years and has had extensive courtroom experience in the areas of family law, juvenile law, and general civil law. Judge Lambeth started practicing law in Midland, TX focusing on general civil litigation, banking and oil and gas litigation and bankruptcy litigation. In 1987, she moved to Williamson County and continued her general civil litigation practice. Judge Lambeth opened her own law firm in 1997 and added family matters to her civil trial practice. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Lambeth was recognized in Williamson County as an experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate attorney. She served in the trenches with the families of Williamson County working with the families as they navigated the difficult waters of divorce, custody, child welfare and juvenile law. Judge Lambeth knows the affect courtroom decisions have on children and families. She has sat across the table from fathers, mothers and children, listening to their stories and helping them determine the course of their new family life.

With this wealth of experience, Judge Lambeth transitioned easily into her role on the bench. Her years of trial experience are evident in her ability to make decisive rulings in the cases before her and in her ability to exercise courtroom efficiency and proper courtroom management.

Judge Lambeth exemplifies the qualities which comprise judicial temperament: common sense, patience, open-mindedness, courtesy, alertness, tact, firmness, understanding, compassion, wisdom and humility. Judge Lambeth has a keen ability to deal with counsel, jurors, witnesses and parties calmly and courteously, and with the willingness to hear and consider the views of all sides. After only 2 1/2 years on the bench, in August 2015 Judge Lambeth was elected by her peers to serve as Presiding Judge of the District Courts of Williamson County.

 
Spring Break Standard Possession Order

In an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), local school districts have or are considering school closures after the spring break. Consequently, the Williamson County Courts have been receiving inquiries requesting guidance for parents whose children are due back after spring break.

The Standard Possession Schedule contained in most divorce and SAPCR orders is based on the school calendar. This means the possession schedule should be read in conjunction with the school calendar: where the child goes to school; or for the school district in which the child resides, if the child is not yet in school. In entering these orders, it was unforeseen that spring break for area schools might be extended because of a pandemic illness, such as COVID-19.

In situations like the present one, for purposes of interpretation of the order, the original school calendar determines the possession schedule. School closures, which may have the net effect of extending the spring break, should not be used by the visiting parent to extend his or her possession period with the child. The child is due back to the other parent at the time spring break ends according to the original school calendar.

 
Court Operations in Civil Non-Family District Courts Under the 2O2O State of Disaster COVID-l9 and Related Coronavirus

This General Order is issued in response to the Local State of Disaster that has been declared by the County Judge of Williamson County, as well as the declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States, and in conformance with First Emergency Order Regarding the COVID- I 9 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals. (Misc. Docket No. 20-9042 (Tex.) Misc. Docket No. 20-007 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https ://www.txcourts.gov/medial1446056/209042.pdf)

The Courts of Williamson County are open, “and every person...shall have remedy by due course of law." (Tx. Const. Art. I Sec. 13). The Court finds that the State of Disaster requires certain steps to be taken in order to mitigate risk to the health and safety of the public, parties, and employees of the Court, and so it is therefore ORDERED that, effective March 17,2020 and continuing until May I 1,2020, unless extended by further orders:

  1. Due to the limitations on mass gatherings limiting the Courts' ability to impanel juries, all jury trials in District Court Civil matters scheduled through May I l,2O2O are CONTNUED without prejudice to either party and, consistent with the directive of the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals, this Court finds that the ends of justice are served by this continuance.
  2. During this period, the parties are strongly encouraged to continue to conference in order to resolve cases, where appropriate.
  3. Under no circumstances should a person appear in Court or at the courthouse who is experiencing symptoms of any illness. The Court will have the capability to conduct hearings in person, telephonically, and electronically. Notwithstanding the limits placed on the Courts in the interest of public health, employees, including chambers staff, will be teleworking between this date and May 11,2020 and are available by phone or email. Electronic filings shall continue to be made through the District Clerk's office.
  4. Designation of Essential Civil Court Matters: Essential Civil Court matters include any matters where there is immediate harm to liberty, life, limb, or property.
    1. Any Essential Civil Court matter shall be calendared with the Court Administrator for the court where it is assigned.
    2. All requested hearings shall contact, via electronic mail, with the Court Administrator of the court where the case is assigned and provide the following information:
      1.  Cause number and name of Defendant
      2.  Necessity of setting
      3. . Need for an interpreter or other accommodation
    3. Phones/contacting the courts: Contact the corresponding court's website for up-to-date contact information. Phones will be set up to forward to offsite locations if necessary.
  5. 5. Parties are encouraged to submit contested motions on a submission docket where available. Contested motions to be heard on submission are:
    1. Summary Judgments
    2. Matters agreed to be heard on submission by the parties with permission of the court.
  6. Please check with each court regarding the scheduling of uncontested matters. Each court has the availability to conduct hearings through a virtual courtroom. Please contact each court for their availability to conduct a virtual/electronic hearing. These platforms include CourtCall and Microsoft Teams

The Court reminds counsel and the public that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the District Courts function effectively and efficiently during this disaster period. As this situation continues to evolve, this order may be modified or extended. We take seriously our obligation to balance the interest of justice and the health and safety of our courthouse community and the community at large. All are requested to exercise patience in this unprecedented situation. Notwithstanding

This order shall be filed with the Williamson County District Clerk and shall be published on the "All District Courts" webpage.

IT IS SO ORDERED THIS 18th DAY OF MARCH 2O2O

Click here for the signed version

 
RE: Court Procedures in the 425th District Court due to the COVID-19 Emergency

March 15, 2020

Dear Counselors and Litigants,

“Keep the Courts open.”
--Direction from then Chief Justice Charles T. Wells, soon after 11 Sep 01

In the event of a pandemic, it is essential that the Judicial Branch fulfill its mission to provide an independent, accessible, responsive forum for the just resolution of disputes, to preserve the rule of law and to protect all rights and liberties guaranteed by the United States and Texas constitutions.

In response to the State of Disaster declared by the Governor, the growing concerns about COVID-19 and to protect the due process rights and public health of all residents, the 425th District Court makes the following changes to court procedures. Please read through this letter carefully in its entirety.There are many details contained within.

  • In the best interest of the community and in the interest of public health please do not attempt to visit the Williamson County Courthouse in person for any matter set in the 425th Court without direct communication with the court.
  • Most, if not all court appearances between March 16 and April 17, 2020, will be held via CourtCall.
  • Starting immediately and continuing until April 17, 2020, the 425th District Court will be operating through a virtual courtroom except for emergencies.Emergencies will handled on a case-by-case basis by the procedure noted below.
  • Court will only be available for in-person hearings on emergency matters.If lawyers or litigants believe their matter is an emergency please contact Marlys Tidrick at mtidrick@wilco.org and wait for a response.Please do not attempt to visit the Williamson County Courthouse in person for any matter without direct communication with the court.
  • Cases currently set in the 425th between March 16 and April 17, 2020:The court recommends all non-emergency hearings be rescheduled.Lawyers and litigants shall exercise their best judgment as to whether the hearing is an emergency.
    • The scheduled hearing will occur in a virtual courtroom format via CourtCall; or
    • By agreement with opposing counsel the hearing may be cancelled.
  • CPS cases:Beginning after docket on March 17, 2020, for CPS cases, all statutory review hearings will be postponed until the court finds it is reasonably possible to proceed, taking into account the circumstances.The Court or the County Attorneys office will notify parties on those cases needing to be re-set once normal operations resume for in-person hearings.The court will continue to hold Show Cause and Chapter 262 hearings through CourtCall.
  • The 425th District Court will continue to comply with the open courts provisions of the Constitution by broadcasting the CourtCall hearings in the courtroom.

Taking into consideration the urgent concerns of public health, being considerate of the litigants with cases in the 425th Court and being aware of the need to continue court in the midst of this emergency, the 425th Court will give litigants two options for hearings scheduled or to be scheduled in the 425th District Court.For litigants with hearings scheduled in the 425th District Court from March 16 through April 17, 2020 there are two options:

Courtcall

You will be required to register with CourtCall at https://courtcall.com Please see the attached Frequently Asked Questions.

CourtCall is a fee based service that allows licensed attorneys and self-represented litigants to participate telephonically from any location in the world.It is a browser-based video application that requires no special equipment or software downloads.While there will be a fee for your participation, the fee is less than the time-cost of a drive to the courthouse.Instructions are found at https://CourtCall.com

If you register for your hearing at CourtCall and subsequently reach an agreement before the virtual docket call, you may cancel your CourtCall appearance and you will be eligible for a refund.

If CourtCall is used, there are several ways the hearing can be conducted.Counsel may have their client and witnesses physically present in their office.Or, Counsel can call in from one location, the client can call in from another location and a witness could call in from a different location.All participants must have a computer with a webcam.Witness testimony will be taken with all participants being able to view the video feed.Mandi Alvarez, the 425th Court Reporter, will be recording the proceedings by appearance through CourtCall.Attorneys will be able to admit documents by uploading the documents. Counsel must pre-mark exhibits.Once the exhibit is uploaded, each participant will be able to view the exhibit.It is quite seamless.The Court will be able to sign documents via an e-signature.Ms. Alvarez will keep and file copies of exhibits per her normal procedure.Please be patient.The first several times there will be some clumsy moments.

The Court will do a trial run of this CourtCall procedure on Monday. Based upon that trial run there may be more updates. Those updates will be sent to the bar and posted in the court webpage.

To abide by the open courts provision of the US Constitution the video will be displayed in the courtroom as long as the courthouse remains open.If the courthouse closes, there will be other accommodations made to comply with the Constitution.

By Agreement, Cancellation

It is important to remember that the hearing may be cancelled only by agreement of the parties.The court always has the ability to readjust the allocation of the CourtCall fee.If the hearing is cancelled by agreement, counsel will not be able to request a rescheduled date until after April 17, 2020.We have no way of knowing how this emergency situation will be affecting court in the near future.

Agreed Matters Or Matters on Submission

In the meantime, and to ensure the civil justice system functions as efficiently as possible under the circumstances, if lawyers and litigant believe they have an agreed matter or non-evidentiary matter that does not require a record, they may submit the motion and a proposed order for consideration directly to the court by email to Ms. Tidrick. Ms. Tidrick will then communicate to all parties regarding whether the judge will consider this matter by submission or by scheduling a CourtCall appearance.

Agreed Divorce Prove Up Hearings

Lawyers and litigants may finalize their divorces by submission as follows.The parties may prepare an agreed, signed (by all parties and attorneys, if any) and notarized Statement of Evidence. The statement of evidence form is being prepared and will be on the court website.The statement of evidence and the final decree of divorce will be submitted electronically and then forwarded to the court for signature.Once the final decree is signed Ms. Tidrick will notify the parties the final decree has been signed.

Default Divorce Hearings

Default divorce hearings are not emergency matters.Because of the potential for notice and record issues the court will not consider default divorces until further notice. As this emergency situation develops we may make changes to these procedures.

Please understand that the above guidelines take into consideration the recommendations of the Texas Supreme Court, the Office of Court Administration, Center for Disease Control, the Texas Department of State Health Services and local health authorities.These directives and updates will be posted on the 425th District Court web page.

By necessity these directives are under constant review and flexible due to changing conditions.Please be patient as we work through this together.

“We have to be realistic….Things are going to get worse before they get better…. But the kinds of things we are doing now will hopefully mitigate that….To think that right now, everything is going to be ok if you don’t do anything.That’s absolutely incorrect.

We’ve got to really always be ahead of the curve….I’d like to be….criticized for being over reactive.Because when you are dealing with a virus outbreak, you are always behind where you think you are.So therefore you’ve got to jump ahead and stay ahead of the curve.

We’ll be thankful that we are overreacting.”

  • Comments by Dr. Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases on Sunday, March 15, 2020.

This is about community and caring for one another.

Sincerely,
Hon. Betsy F. Lambeth
425th District Court
Williamson County, Texas

 
General Order Regarding Setting Hearings in a Virtual Courtroom Environment: Under the 2020 State of Disaster COVID-19 and Related Coronavirus

In response to the Local State of Disaster that has been declared by the County Judge of Williamson County, as well as the declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States, and in conformance with various Emergency Orders Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals. (1 Misc. Docket No. 20-9042 (Tex.) Misc. Docket No. 20-007 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446056/209042.pdf)

Due to the exigent circumstances the court requires the hearing scheduled herein via VIRTUAL COURTROOM TECHNOLOGIES. There are two options.

IT IS ORDERED THAT:
THE PARTY SCHEDULING THE HEARING IS REQUIRED TO SERVE NOTICE
PURSUANT TO TEXAS RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE OF THE FORM OF
VIRTUAL COURTROOM THAT WILL BE USED FOR THE HEARING. THE PARTY
SCHEDULING THE VIRTUAL COURTROOM HEARING MUST INCLUDE INSTRUCTIONS SUFFICIENT FOR THE OPPOSING PARTY TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE.

  1. COURT CALL
    CourtCall is a fee-based service that allows licensed attorneys and self-represented litigants to participate telephonically from any location in the world. It is a browserbased video application that requires no special equipment or software downloads. While there will be a fee for your participation, the fee is less than the time-cost of a drive to the courthouse. Instructions are found at https://CourtCall.com

    If you register for your hearing at CourtCall and subsequently reach an agreement before the virtual docket call, you may cancel your CourtCall appearance and you will be eligible for a refund.

    If CourtCall is used, there are several ways the hearing can be conducted. Counsel may have their client and witnesses physically present in their office. Or, Counsel can call in from one location, the client can call in from another location and a witness could call in from a different location. All participants must have a computer with a webcam. Witness testimony will be taken with all participants being able to view the video feed. Attorneys will be able to admit documents by uploading the documents. Counsel must pre-mark exhibits. Once the exhibit is uploaded, each participant will be able to view the exhibit. The Court will be able to sign documents via an e-signature. Ms. Alvarez will keep and file copies of exhibits per her normal procedure.
  2.  MICROSOFT TEAMS
    Microsoft Teams is cloud-based team collaboration software that is part of the Office 365 suite of applications. The core capabilities in Microsoft Teams include business messaging, calling, video meetings and file sharing.

    To set a hearing, please contact the 425th District Court Administrator, Ms. Marlys Tidrick at mtidrick@wilco.org. Ms. Tidrick will set the hearing by sending the parties an email calendar invitation through Microsoft Teams with a specific day and time for the hearing. On the day of the hearing, select “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting” in your meeting invitation to be taken to a page where you can choose to either join on the web or download the desktop application. If you already have the Teams application, the meeting will open there automatically. If you are unable to use the Teams application or Teams on the web, you can join the meeting by calling the phone number and conference ID in the meeting invitation, just dial the number to join.

    There are several ways the hearing can be conducted. Counsel may have their client and witnesses physically present in their office. Counsel may also call in from one location, the client can call in from another location, and a witness can call in from a different location. To have visual capabilities, in addition to audio, you must have a computer, smartphone, or tablet with a webcam. The Court strongly recommends the parties and counsel appear using visual capabilities.

    Witness testimony will be taken by the 425th District Court Reporter, Amanda Alvarez, recording the proceedings. For transcript requests, contact Ms. Alvarez at Amanda.alvarez@wilco.org or (512) 943-1178. Additionally, the Court may choose to conduct an audio-visual recording of the proceeding. Parties will be required to electronically provide the court reporter and opposing counsel/party their pre-marked exhibits no later than 24-hours prior to the hearing. Ms. Alvarez will keep and file copies of exhibits per her normal procedure. Following submission, the Court will sign orders electronically. Please be patient as we refine the process of conducting Virtual Courtroom Hearings.

If the parties fail to appear visually, the Court may determine it is more appropriate to reschedule the hearing for a date after the disaster declaration lifts.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the party scheduling the Virtual Courtroom Hearing serve notice of the hearing pursuant to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and the terms of this General Order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the party scheduling the Virtual Courtroom Hearing include instructions sufficient for the opposing counsel and party to make an appearance at the hearing.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the party scheduling the Virtual Courtroom Hearing provide the 425th District Court Administrator with sufficient contact information for the attorneys and parties, so that the court administrator can calendar the hearing utilizing either CourtCall or Microsoft Teams.
Signed on March 30, 2020
SIGNED
______________________
Hon. Betsy F. Lambeth
425th District Court
 

You can find a signed copy of this order here