While this is a post about Texas state practice, I am cross-posting it from 600Commerce because it is of broad general interest to civil appellate practitioners.
With respect to court orders and judgments, the words “signed,” “rendered,” and “entered” are often used interchangeably. But those words have specific, technical meanings, and it is wise to remember those meanings when differences matter. Accord, Burrell v. Cornelius, 570 S.W.2d 382, 384 (Tex. 1978) (“Judges render judgment; clerks enter them on the minutes. … The entry of a judgment is the clerk’s record in the minutes of the court. ‘Entered’ is synonymous with neither ‘Signed’ nor ‘Rendered.’”).
Two rules set the background as to when critical countdowns commence:
- Tex. R. Civ. P. 306a: “The date of judgment or order is signed as shown of record shall determine the beginning of the periods prescribed by these rules for the court’s plenary power to grant a new trial or to vacate, modify, correct or reform a judgment or order and for filing in the trial court the various documents that these rules authorize a party to file …”
- Similarly, Tex. R. App. P. 26.1 begins: “The notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days after the judgment is signed, except as follows …”
By contrast, “[j]udgment is rendered when the trial court officially announces its decision in open court or by written memorandum filed with the clerk.” E.g., S&A Restaurant Corp. v. Leal, 892 S.W.2d 855, 857 (Tex. 1995) (per curiam). And the above-quoted paragraph from Rule 306a concludes: “… but this rule shall not determine what constitutes rendition of a judgment or order for any other purpose.”
By contrast, entry of judgment refers to the recording of a rendered judgment in the court’s official records. See, e.g., Lone Star Cement Corp v. Fair, 467 S.W.2d 402, 405 (Tex. 1971) (“The law is settled in this state that clerical errors in the entry of a judgment, previously rendered, may be corrected after the end of the court’s term by a nunc pro tunc judgment; however, judicial errors in the previously rendered judgment may not be so corrected.” (emphasis added)).
I gratefully acknowledge the excellent insights of Ben Taylor in preparing this post!