First Court of Appeals

History 

1891

  • Constitutional amendment establishes (1) three-judge courts of civil appeals to be created by legislature and (2) chief justice and two associate justices for each court who are elected to six-year terms
  • Constitutional amendment provides courts of civil appeals shall have appellate jurisdiction co-extensive with limits of their supreme judicial districts extending to all civil cases of which district and county courts have original or appellate jurisdiction, under such restrictions as provided by law
  • Constitutional amendment provides "that the decision of said courts shall be conclusive on all questions of fact brought before them on appeal or error," now referred to as the Factual Conclusivity Clause.


1892

  • Legislature creates Court of Civil Appeals for the First Supreme Judicial District of Texas (effective August 15, 1892) Legislature locates Court in Galveston (Picture of old courthouse)
  • Legislature sets term of courts of civil appeals as commencing on first Monday in October and concluding on first Monday in July of the next year
  • Legislature establishes minimum-amount-in-controversy requirement that trial-court judgments must exceed $100 [$2,280 in 2007 dollars] for appeals in which county courts exercised trial-de-novo appellate jurisdiction
  • Legislature authorizes courts of civil appeals to issue writs of mandamus and all other writs necessary to enforce courts' jurisdiction
  • Legislature authorizes courts of civil appeals to issue writs of mandamus to compel judges of district courts to proceed to trial and judgment
  • Legislature creates two-year term for clerks of courts of civil appeals
  • Court opens first term on Monday, October 3, 1892 in the old Galveston County Courthouse, which legend holds was haunted by the ghost of a prisoner who was hanged there
  • Texas Supreme Court promulgates Rules for the Courts of Civil Appeals, 84 Tex. 697, 19-20 S.W. (Tex. Cases) vi (effective October 8, 1892).

1895

  • Legislature directs Texas Supreme Court to equalize dockets of courts of civil appeals by transferring cases.

1899

  • Associate Justice Frank A. Williams becomes first judge of First Court to serve on Texas Supreme Court.

1902

  • First volume of official reports for courts of civil appeals is published, The Texas Civil Appeals Reports: Cases Argued and Decided in the Courts of Civil Appeals of the State of Texas; publication ceased in 1911 with volume 57.

1927

  • Legislature changes term of courts of civil appeals to commence on first Monday in October and continue to succeeding first Monday in October of the next year (effective June 7, 1927).

1929

  • Legislature authorizes courts of civil appeals to issue writs of mandamus to compel judges of county courts to proceed to trial and judgment
  • Legislature amends 1925 Revised Statutes article 1819 to read, "The appellate jurisdiction of the Courts of Civil Appeals shall extend to all civil cases within the limits of their respective districts of which the District Courts and County Courts have or assume jurisdiction when the amount in controversy or the judgment rendered shall exceed One Hundred Dollars exclusive of interest and costs."; legislature does not amend 1925 Revised Statutes article 2249, which states, "An appeal or Writ of Error may be taken to the Court of Civil Appeals from every final judgment of the district court in civil cases, and from every final judgment in the county court in civil cases of which the county court has original jurisdiction, and from every final judgment of the county court in civil cases in which the court has appellate jurisdiction, where the judgment or amount in controversy exceeds one hundred dollars exclusive of interest and costs."

1930

  • Legislature authorizes courts of civil appeals to issue writs of mandamus in specified election matters.

1931

  • Legislature authorizes courts of civil appeals to issue writs of injunction, mandamus, and prohibition to prevent enforcement of trial-court judges' orders granting injunctive relief against Railroad Commission related to oil-and-gas conservation matters.

1936

  • Eastland Court of Civil Appeals resolves seeming conflict between 1925 Revised Statutes articles 1819 and 2249 in Stavely v. Stavely, 94 S.W.2d 545 (Tex. Civ. App.—Eastland 1936, writ dism'd) by harmonizing two statutes to preserve distinction between courts of civil appeals' jurisdiction over (1) all final judgments from district courts and all final judgments from county courts in which county court had original jurisdiction, to which there is no minimum-amount-in-controversy requirement, and (2) final judgments from county courts in which county court had trial-de-novo appellate jurisdiction, which has in-excess-of-$100-minimum-amount-in-controversy requirement.

1941

  • Texas Supreme Court promulgates Texas Rules of Civil Procedure (rules 352 to 473 apply to courts of civil appeals) and repeals Rules for the Courts of Civil Appeals.

1949

  • Legislature authorizes chief justice of Texas Supreme Court to assign retired judges to sit in any court of same dignity, or lesser, as that from which they retired.

1957

  • Hurricane Audrey damages Court's offices in old Galveston County Courthouse
  • Legislature moves Court from Galveston to Houston and requires Harris County to provide facilities (effective August 21, 1957)
  • Legislature states that Court "shall" hear in the city of Galveston all cases originating in Galveston County Legislature provides that if court of civil appeals with jurisdiction over matter that requires immediate action is unable to take immediate action, nearest available court of civil appeals may take action
  • Court moves into Harris County Courthouse.

1959

  • Legislature places chief justices of courts of civil appeals, in numerical order by supreme judicial districts, in order of gubernatorial succession after lieutenant governor, president pro tempore of senate, speaker of house of representatives, and attorney general.

1963

  • Judges of First Court begin wearing robes while on bench.

1967

  • Legislature creates Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston, which has concurrent jurisdiction with First Court
  • Legislature states that Court "may" hear in the city of Galveston all cases originating in Galveston County
  • Legislature states that clerks of First and Fourteenth Courts "shall" equalize by lot or chance dockets of two courts.

1969

  • Legislature authorizes courts of civil appeals to issue writs of habeas corpus in divorce, wife-support, child-support, or child-custody cases in which person is restrained in his liberty in supreme judicial district by virtue of order issued by judge because of person's violation of previously made order
  • Legislature authorizes courts of civil appeals to issue writs of mandamus against district judges and clerks of the courts of civil appeals to enforce duty to supply judicial statistics to Texas Civil Judicial.
  • Council Court hires first briefing attorney, Karl Stewart.

1971

  • Maribelle Reich, a former state senator (Maribelle Stewart), becomes clerk.

1977

  • Legislature increases Court from three to six judges, contingent on adoption of constitutional amendment in 1978.
  • Legislature authorizes courts of civil appeals to sit in "panels" of not fewer than three judges, contingent on adoption of constitutional amendment in 1978.
  • Legislature authorizes chief justice of Texas Supreme Court to assign active or qualified retired judges of courts of civil appeals to sit as visiting judges on courts of civil appeals.

1978

  • Constitutional amendment allows (1) legislature to increase membership of court of civil appeals beyond three judges and (2) courts of civil appeals to sit in "sections" as provided by law (effective November 7, 1978)
  • Three new judges join Court on December 1, 1978 and have offices in Citizens Bank Building separate from Court's main offices in Harris County Courthouse.

1980

  • Constitutional amendment grants criminal jurisdiction to courts of civil appeals, except for appeals in which death penalty is assessed (effective September 1, 1981)
  • Constitutional amendment changes Court's name to the Court of Appeals for the First Supreme Judicial District of Texas (effective September 1, 1981).

1981

  • Legislature increases Court from six to nine judges (effective September 1, 1981)
  • Legislature changes term of courts of appeals to calendar year, January 1 to December 31 (effective September 1, 1981)
  • Court of Criminal Appeals promulgates Texas Rules of Post Trial and Appellate Procedure in Criminal Cases
  • Court hires first staff attorney, Lynne Liberato, who later that year becomes Court's first chief staff attorney
  • Court acquires criminal jurisdiction on September 1, 1981.

1983

  • Legislature allows Court to transact business in any county in First Supreme Judicial District, rather than previous limitation to cities of Galveston and Houston
  • Legislature (1) requires that trial-court clerks assign cases, along with any companion cases, to First and Fourteenth Courts by publicly drawing at random slips of paper bearing numbers of the courts and (2) amends requirement that clerks of First and Fourteenth Courts "shall" equalize by lot or chance dockets of two courts by replacing "shall" with "may" and deleting "by lot or chance"
  • Legislature expands authority of courts of appeals to issue writs of mandamus against judges of district and county courts to all situations "agreeable to the principles of law regulating such writs"
  • Legislature authorizes chief justice of Texas Supreme Court to assign qualified retired judges of supreme court or court of criminal appeals to sit as visiting judges on courts of civil appeals
  • Court moves into South Texas College of Law building on December 3, 1983.

1985

  • Constitutional amendment changes Court's name to Court of Appeals for the First Court of Appeals District of Texas (effective November 5, 1985)
  • Constitutional amendment changes title of "associate justice" to "justice" (effective November 5, 1985)
  • Legislature codifies 1925 Revised Statutes article 1819 into Government Code section 22.220 and 1925 Revised Statutes article 2249 into Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 51.012, apparently substantively modifying existing law by applying minimum-amount-in-controversy requirement that trial-court judgments must exceed $100 to all appeals, not just appeals in which county courts exercised trial-de-novo appellate jurisdiction.

1986

  • Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals promulgate Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure and repeal Texas Rules of Post Trial and Appellate Procedure in Criminal Cases and appellate provisions of Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

1987

  • Legislature restricts authority of courts of appeals to issue writs of mandamus against judges of district and county courts to those judges in court of appeals district
  • Legislature authorizes appellate courts to refer pending disputes for resolution by alternate dispute resolution procedure.

1989

  • Legislature authorizes chief justice of Texas Supreme Court to assign former judges of supreme court, court of criminal appeals, or courts of appeals to sit as visiting judges on courts of appeals.

1991

  • Legislature authorizes courts of appeals to issue writs of habeas corpus in all civil contempt matters in which person is restrained in his liberty in court of appeals district by virtue of order issued by judge because of person's violation of previously made order.

1995

  • Legislature authorizes courts of appeals to issue writs of mandamus in specified venue matters
  • Legislature authorizes courts of appeals to issue writs of mandamus against judges of district courts in court of appeals district who are acting as magistrates of courts of inquiry.

1997

  • Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals promulgate new Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure; new rule 19 sets uniform expiration date on courts of appeals' plenary power over their judgments.

1998

  • Court established chambers system in which each judge has one staff attorney and one briefing attorney.

1999

  • Legislature authorizes two-year Metropolitan Court Backlog Reduction program for First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals; Justices F. Lee Duggan, Jr., Frank C. Price, and Jackson B. Smith, Jr. return to Court to sit as visiting judges from September 1999 to August 2001.

2001

  • Constitutional amendment establishes four-year term of clerks of courts of appeals (effective November 6, 2001).

2003

  • Legislature authorizes chief justice of Texas Supreme Court to assign active district judges to sit as visiting judges on courts of appeals.

2009

  • Legislature amends Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 51.012 minimum-amount-in-controversy requirement that trial-court judgments must exceed $100, increasing that amount to $250.