- The Texas Court system is having the following heirarchy:
- Supreme Court for (civil cases ) and the Court of_ Criminal Appeals (for the criminal cases) are the Highest Court of the State.
- Courts of appeals
- District Courts
- Constitutional County Courts And statutory Probate Courts
- County Courts at Law,
- Justice of Peace Courts (the small claims court) and in the cities the Municipal Courts.
- The court system of the State of Texas being the Supreme Court as the highest state appellate court for civil matters, including juvenile delinquency, which the law considers to be a civil matter and not criminal;
- The Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the highest state appellate court for criminal matters; which has intermediate appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases; and four levels of trial courts.
- The trial courts of general jurisdiction are the district courts, deals in civil, criminal, family law or juvenile cases.
- Each county in Texas has a constitutional county court presided over by a county judge. To relieve the docket congestion of this single county court, the Legislature has established county courts at law in many smaller counties and all larger ones and statutory probate courts in many counties with large populations.
- In addition, each county is required to have at least one justice of the peace court. These courts also serve as small claims courts and are having a limited Civil and Criminal jurisdiction.
- The municipal courts in each incorporated city in Texas are created by the legislature. Within the city limits, these courts have shared - "concurrent" - criminal jurisdiction with the Justice of The Peace Courts. Theses Courts have limited criminal Jurisdiction.
- The jurisdiction of a Trial Courts court is to try and to decide a case. It has the original jurisdiction in Civil as well as the criminal cases.
- Original jurisdiction is the power to hear a case first, before any other court.
- In a trial court, witnesses are heard, exhibits are offered into evidence and a verdict (in a jury trial) or a decision (in a case tried by a judge alone, called a "bench" trial) is reached based on the facts of the case.
- In a civil case, the decision or verdict determines which party wins the lawsuit. In civil cases, plaintiffs initiate the lawsuit and defendants are the ones who are sued.
- In a criminal case, the trial court - either a judge hearing the facts alone or a jury - determines whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime alleged. In criminal cases, the government in effect sues as the prosecutor and is the plaintiff's equivalent in civil suits.
- Certain trial courts like county courts hear appeals from justice of the peace courts and from those municipal courts where no written record of the proceedings is made. In those situations the appeal is an entirely new trial.
Texas District Courts
- The district courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction of Texas.
- District courts have original jurisdiction in
- all felony criminal cases,
- divorce cases,
- cases involving title to land,
- election contest cases,
- civil matters in which the amount in controversy (the amount of money or damages involved) is $200 or more, and
- any matters in which jurisdiction is not placed in another trial court.
- While most district courts try both criminal and civil cases, in the more densely populated counties the courts may specialize in civil, criminal, juvenile, or family law matters.
- The Municipal Court of Record is invested with the role of providing a fair and impartial tribunal for the disposition of fine only criminal offenses which have occurred and are prosecuted in the Municipal area.
- To properly administer this function, the Court schedules offenders to appear before the Court, adjudicate the trial, collect fines from guilty offenders, and issue warrants of arrest where the offender has not paid or appeared in Court.
Constitutional County Courts
- These courts have concurrent jurisdiction with justice of the peace and district courts in civil cases in which the amount in controversy is small.
- The constitutional county courts generally hear the probate cases filed in the county.
- They have original jurisdiction over all Class A and Class B misdemeanor criminal cases, which are the more serious minor offenses.
- These courts usually have appellate jurisdiction in cases appealed from justice of the peace and municipal courts, except in counties where county courts at law have been established.
County Courts at Law
of the State limits each county to a single county court, the Legislature has created statutory county courts at law in the larger counties to aid the single county court in its judicial functions.
Statutory Probate Courts
- The Statutory Probate Courts of Texas are located in the state's six largest metropolitan areas and have original and exclusive jurisdiction over their counties'
- probate matters,
- guardianship cases, and
- mental health commitments.
- In most counties, the constitutional county court has original probate jurisdiction.
- Appellate Courts are those to which a case is appealed from a lower court or the trial court. These courts act with "appellate jurisdiction" - that is, authority to review a decision of an inferior court on questions of law.
- In an appeal, no new evidence is presented and no witnesses are heard. Facts of the case have been determined at the trial and all testimony and evidence are in the record that was made in the trial court and sent to the appellate court when the appeal was made.
- In selected cases, an appellate court may review a lower court's decision in its entirety in what is called de novo (as new) review. Most appeals, however, review legal rulings by the lower court.
- The appellate court makes its decision on the appeal based on a review of the record and the arguments of the attorneys for both sides.