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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 4 - Personnel General
Publication Date: July 30, 2007
Policy Reviewed Date: May 7, 2024
Policy Owner: President

4.18 Procedures for Handling Legal Processes, Citations, Notices, Demands, etc.

The University of Texas System Office of General Counsel is administratively responsible for all legal matters affecting the University of Texas System, including management of litigation. The Office of General Counsel's authority in this latter area is limited by statutory provision delegating to the Attorney General of Texas primary responsibility for representation of the System in the Courts. However, the Office of General Counsel does have responsibility for identifying the need for such representation and for ensuring prompt notice of same to the Attorney General.

It frequently happens that subpoenas, notices, citations, legal processes, etc., are made on persons other than a proper service agent, or upon someone who may not be familiar with such matters. This service may be made on employees of departments or administrative offices not involved, or on persons other than officials or agents of the System or its institutions. Many of these demands are made on an instanter (at once) basis, or the Office of General Counsel may have only a few days in which to receive and examine the process, make a file search, assign an attorney and deliver it to the Attorney General. For example, Chapter 104 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code entitled "State Liability for Conduct of Public Servants" will not provide statutory protection for state employees sued unless the process served on the State employee is delivered to the Attorney General not later than ten days after service (see TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ยง 104.005), even though the Act may otherwise apply. Some of the matters require even faster action.

Under these circumstances, the risk is that the person served with process, notice, demand, etc., will not immediately know how to handle it and thereby bring about a delay in its handling or even its loss. It goes without saying that this could seriously impede proper protection of the interests of the System and its institutions or, in some cases, the interests of individuals.

Accordingly, in order to minimize this risk, when any employee of the university is served with legal process, citation, subpoena, notice, demand, etc., such person should contact UTSA's Office of Legal Affairs immediately. If the document does not indicate on whom and on what date the document was served, the employee should write this information clearly on the face of the document. The original of any papers served should then be delivered immediately to the Office of Legal Affairs. Responses to subpoenas are processed by various departments of the university, at the direction and coordination of the Office of Legal Affairs. Internal procedures for the processing of subpoenas can be found on the Office of Legal Affairs Web site. It is the responsibility of the Office of Legal Affairs to forward other legal process or documents to the Office of General Counsel. As soon as possible the Office of Legal Affairs should mail such process to the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, The University of Texas System. In order to ensure against loss in the mail, the Office of General Counsel forwards an acknowledgment of receipt to the sender of such process. If an acknowledgment is not received by return mail, the Office of Legal Affairs should contact the Office of General Counsel to determine if the legal documents have been received. In situations requiring immediate attention, the Office of General Counsel may be notified by telephone or by facsimile.

Where general demands are made to inspect or copy records under the Texas Public Information Act (open records act), such requests must be processed under Chapter 9, Section 9.08 of this Handbook.

The initiation of all suits by The University of Texas System or its institutions, the retention of outside counsel, if any, and the payment of attorney's fees require the prior approval of the General Counsel or the Chancellor of the UT System. Such requests to initiate a lawsuit should first be made to UTSA's Office of Legal Affairs. Generally, any correspondence or question of a legal nature that may require consultation with the Office of General Counsel should be addressed initially to UTSA's Office of Legal Affairs. This precaution will permit a single, informed office to expedite and document all official university communications with the Office of General Counsel.