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Texas Courts of Appeals

Texas Courts of Appeals

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The Texas Courts of Appeals are part of the Texas judicial system
Texas judicial system
The structure of the Texas judicial system is laid out in Article 5 of the Texas Constitution, and is further defined under the Texas Government Code and, with regards to probate matters, under the Texas Probate Code....

. In Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, all cases appealed from the district level, both criminal and civil, may be heard by one of the fourteen Texas Courts of Appeals. The exception is for cases where the death penalty is a factor; these cases go directly to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for all criminal matters in the State of Texas, United States. The Court, which is based in the Supreme Court Building in Downtown Austin, is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight judges....

, the highest court in Texas for criminal cases. The highest court in Texas for civil cases is the Texas Supreme Court
Texas Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Texas is the court of last resort for non-criminal matters in the state of Texas. A different court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is the court of last resort for criminal matters.The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices...

. The specific number of Justices that can sit in each court is regulated by statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

. The total number of appellate justices
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

 in Texas is currently 80, and can range from three to thirteen for each court. Cases in appellate courts are usually heard by a panel of three judges (even if there are more available). The exception to this is when a case is heard en banc
En banc
En banc, in banc, in banco or in bank is a French term used to refer to the hearing of a legal case where all judges of a court will hear the case , rather than a panel of them. It is often used for unusually complex cases or cases considered to be of greater importance...

, when all of the justices hear the case.

Like the Texas Supreme Court
Texas Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Texas is the court of last resort for non-criminal matters in the state of Texas. A different court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is the court of last resort for criminal matters.The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices...

 and Court of Criminal Appeals
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for all criminal matters in the State of Texas, United States. The Court, which is based in the Supreme Court Building in Downtown Austin, is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight judges....

, Justices of the Texas Courts of Appeals are elected in partisan elections to six-year terms.

History


Courts of civil appeals in Texas were established in 1891 by constitutional amendment to help handle the increasing load of the court system. They had jurisdiction to hear appeals and mandamus of any civil case from their region, with the regions decided by the legislature. The amendment provided that three-judge courts of appeals were to be created by legislature, and in 1892, the legislature created 3 courts of appeals: The First Court of Civil Appeals in Galveston, the Second Court of Civil Appeals in Fort Worth, and the Third Court of Civil Appeals in Austin. In 1893, the legislature created the Fourth Court of Civil Appeals in San Antonio out of territory taken from the first and third courts, and the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas. In 1907, the legislature created the Sixth Court of Civil Appeals in Texarkana. Then in 1911, the Seventh Court of Civil Appeals in Amarillo and the Eighth Court of Civil Appeals in El Paso were created. Soon after that, the Ninth Court of Civil Appeals was created in Beaumont in 1915, the Tenth was created in Waco in 1923, and the Eleventh was created in Eastland in 1925.

In 1957, after Hurricane Audrey severely damaged the Galveston County Courthouse, the legislature moved the First Court of Appeals to Houston (where it sits today) and required Harris County to provide facilities.

It wasn't until the 1970s that any more courts were created with the Twelfth Court of Civil Appeals in Tyler, the Thirteenth in Corpus Christi, and the Fourteenth in Houston (created with concurrent jurisdiction with the First Court of Civil Appeals)

In 1977, the legislature increased the number of judges of various courts and authorized courts of appeals to sit in "panels" of not fewer than three judges.

On September 1, 1981, all Courts of Civil Appeals were given criminal jurisdiction, and in 1985 a constitutional amendment was passed so that all courts were known as "Courts of Appeals" instead of "Courts of Civil Appeals." Until 1981, all criminal appeals cases went directly to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for all criminal matters in the State of Texas, United States. The Court, which is based in the Supreme Court Building in Downtown Austin, is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight judges....

, and all cases involving capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

still do.

Jurisdictions


There are fourteen districts of the Texas Courts of Appeals (in order):
  1. First Court of Appeals of Texas - Houston (formerly Galveston), covering Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller, and Washington counties
  2. Second Court of Appeals of Texas - Fort Worth, covering Archer, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Hood, Jack, Montague, Parker, Tarrant, Wichita, Wise, and Young counties
  3. Third Court of Appeals of Texas - Austin, covering Bastrop, Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Coke, Comal, Concho, Fayette, Hays, Irion, Lampasas, Lee, Llano, McCulloch, Milam, Mills, Runnels, San Saba, Schleicher, Sterling, Tom Green, Travis, and Williamson counties
  4. Fourth Court of Appeals of Texas - San Antonio, covering Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Brooks, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, La Salle, Mason, Maverick, McMullen, Medina, Menard, Real, Starr, Sutton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala counties
  5. Fifth Court of Appeals of Texas - Dallas, covering Collin, Dallas, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties
  6. Sixth Court of Appeals of Texas - Texarkana, covering Bowie, Camp, Cass, Delta, Fannin, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Hopkins, Hunt, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Titus, Upshur, and Wood counties
  7. Seventh Court of Appeals of Texas - Amarillo, covering Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Dickens, Donley, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hale, Hall, Hansford, Hardeman, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lamb, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Lynn, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Terry, Wheeler, Wilbarger, and Yoakum counties.
  8. Eighth Court of Appeals of Texas - El Paso, covering Andrews, Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Terrell, Upton, Ward, and Winkler counties
  9. Ninth Court of Appeals of Texas - Beaumont, covering Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto, and Tyler counties
  10. Tenth Court of Appeals of Texas - Waco, covering Bosque, Brazos, Burleson, Coryell, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Johnson, Leon, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Navarro, Robertson, Somervell, and Walker counties
  11. Eleventh Court of Appeals of Texas - Eastland, covering Baylor, Borden, Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Comanche, Dawson, Eastland, Ector, Erath, Fisher, Gaines, Glasscock, Haskell, Howard, Jones, Knox, Martin, Midland, Mitchell, Nolan, Palo Pinto, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Stonewall, Taylor, and Throckmorton counties
  12. Twelfth Court of Appeals of Texas - Tyler, covering Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Gregg, Henderson, Houston, Nacogdoches, Rains, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Upshur, Van Zandt, and Wood counties
  13. Thirteenth Court of Appeals of Texas - Corpus Christi, covering Aransas, Bee, Calhoun, Cameron, De Witt, Goliad, Gonzales, Hidalgo, Jackson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lavaca, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Wharton, and Willacy counties
  14. Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas - Houston, covering Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller, and Washington counties


The 1st and 14th Courts share concurrent jurisdiction cover the same counties. The cases are assigned on a random selection basis, but may be moved in order to equalize the docket. Also, the counties of Gregg, Rusk, Upshur, and Wood are in the jurisdictions of both the 6th and 12th Courts, while Hunt County is in the jurisdiction of both the 5th and 6th Courts.