Fifth Court of Appeals



Texas achieved its independence from Mexico in 1836. In 1876, some 40 years later, the Supreme Court of Texas was still the only appellate court and had jurisdiction of both civil and criminal cases and decided questions of fact as well as of law.

Our present Constitution, as ratified in 1876, provided for two appellate courts, the Supreme Court, having jurisdiction of civil cases only, and the Court of Appeals, having jurisdiction of all criminal cases and of certain civil cases. The judicial section was amended in 1891 to create the Courts of Civil Appeals as intermediate appellate courts; and the name of the Court of Appeals was changed to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

By an Act approved 1892, the Courts of Civil Appeals for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd District were created. They were located at Galveston, Fort Worth and Austin. By subsequent legislation, the number of Courts increased to eleven. The 1st located in Galveston was moved to Houston in 1892, 2nd in Fort Worth, 3rd in Austin, 4th San Antonio, 5th Dallas (both in 1893), 6th Texarkana (1907), 7th Amarillo, 8th El Paso (both in 1911), 9th Beaumont (1915), 10th Waco (1923), and the 11th Eastland (1925). During the early 70's, Courts of Civil Appeals were also added at Tyler (12th), Corpus Christi (13th), and the Houston Court split to become the 1st and 14th.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas was formally opened on September 4, 1893. There was a Chief Justice and two Associate Justices until 1978 (85 years) when three additional Justices were authorized. In 1981, criminal jurisdiction was added and six additional justices. In 1983, an additional justice position was created and the present configuration is 12 Justices and one Chief Justice. Statewide, there are a total of 80 Appellate Court Justices.