Texas Judicial System Explained
The lowest court in this bifurcated appellate system is the Justice of the Peace Court or JP court.
A Texas JP court handles criminal misdemeanors “punishable by fine only” and civil matters where the “amount in controversy is $10,000 or less.”
The Texas legislature has also extended the reach and influence of JP courts to hear cases involving eviction, foreclosures, and liens against personal property that fall under the $10,000 cap.
Municipal courts (City Courts) also share jurisdiction with JP courts in misdemeanor cases. Municipal courts and JP courts have sole jurisdiction on cases involving city ordinances.
They also preside over cases relating to public safety.
County courts hear appeals from JP and municipal courts. In Bexar, Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Galveston, Harris, Hidalgo, Tarrant, and Travis counties, county courts also hear probate cases.
Texas county courts can hear both civil and criminal cases, although some counties create separate courts for civil and criminal cases.
District courts are the trial courts at the state level.
District courts hear felony cases, real estate and land title cases, and election contest cases.
Fourteen appellate courts in Houston, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Texarkana, Amarillo, El Paso, Beaumont, Waco, Eastland, Tyler, and Corpus Christi are district courts that can hear family law and probate matters.
Only the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest criminal court in Texas .
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals hears all appeals of death penalty cases and criminal cases decided at the 14 mid-level appellate courts in the state.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has eight justices and one presiding justice who are elected to six-year terms.
The Texas Supreme Court is the highest appellate civil litigation court in Texas. Set at the State capital, the Court panel consists of a chief justice and eight justices who are elected statewide to staggered six-year terms.
The governor may also appoint justices temporarily to fill vacancies.
Appointed justices may serve out the unexpired term, but must first be confirmed by the Texas Senate.
The Texas Supreme Court also has authority in addition to litigation, according to TSC Web site: “By statute the Court has administrative control over the State Bar of Texas. Tex. Gov’t Code § 81.011.
The Court is also the sole authority for licensing attorneys in Texas and appoints the members of the Board of Law Examiners which administers the Texas bar examination.
The law office of Brian Loncar utilizes the pseudonym “Strong Arm” to indicate that Mr. Loncar himself is not the writer of the blog. Unless the blog is noted to be authored by Brian Loncar a Staff writer is utilized to conceive, create and write the “Strong Arm” blogs. The Strong Arm blogs are not intended to create an Attorney- Client relationship, nor does it constitute legal advice.
The information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.