Court Of Criminal Appeals

Analysis Of Activity For Year Ended August 31, 1997

The Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest state court for criminal appeals and is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight judges.

Decisions of the Courts of Appeals in criminal cases may be appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals by petition for discretionary review, filed either by the State, or the defendant, or both. In addition, the Court may review a decision on its own motion. Appeal of death penalty cases is direct from the trial court to the Court of Criminal Appeals.


Matters Added To The Docket

During the state fiscal year 1997, which ended August 31, 1997, 505 cases were added to the docket of the Court of Criminal Appeals, of which 111 were cases where discretionary review was granted by the Court and 394 were direct appeals, death penalty appeals, writs of habeas corpus granted, and extraordinary writs. Death penalty appeals in fiscal year 1997 numbered 76, compared to 41 in fiscal year 1996.

The 505 cases added in fiscal year 1997 represent a decrease of 2.5 percent from the 518 cases added during fiscal year 1996.


Other Matters Added

The Court had 1,677 petitions for discretionary review filed during fiscal year 1997, 9.2 percent less than the 1,847 filed during the previous year. Petitions for discretionary review were received from 137 counties, with 43.4 percent of them originating from Harris or Dallas Counties. Applications for writs of habeas corpus filed during the year totaled 5,444, a 22.5 percent increase over the 4,445 filed in fiscal year 1996. Also, 1,772 other motions or applications were handled by the Court, a 31.9 percent decrease from the 2,602 considered the previous year.


During fiscal year 1997, the Court disposed of 447 cases on direct appeal, compared to 323 such dispositions in fiscal year 1996. In 1997, those 447 dispositions represented 85.0 percent of all cases on the docket on direct appeal, that is, cases filed during the year or carried over from previous years. In fiscal year 1996, this disposition rate was 72.3 percent.

In fiscal year 1997, 1,644 petitions for discretionary review were disposed, 111, or 6.8 percent, of which were granted. The remainder were refused or dismissed. In fiscal year 1996, 1,779 petitions for discretionary review were disposed, 211, or 11.9 percent, of which were granted.



There were 5,709 applications for writs of habeas corpus disposed in fiscal year 1997, compared to 4,232 in 1996, an increase of 34.9 percent.

Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals wrote 747 opinions during fiscal year 1997, of which 565, or 75.6 percent, were "deciding" opinions disposing of cases. The remainder were dissents, concurrences, and opinions on rehearings. Of the deciding opinions, 140 were signed and 425 were per curiam. During 1996, members of the Court wrote 749 opinions, 71.3 percent of which were deciding opinions.


Total Pending Caseload

On August 31, 1997, 1,854 total matters (excluding miscellaneous motions and applications) were pending in the Court of Criminal Appeals. This represented an increase of 7.4 percent from the 1,727 matters pending on August 31, 1996.

Of these 1,854 matters, 107 were direct appeals, death penalty appeals, granted habeas corpus writs, and extraordinary writs, 96 were granted discretionary review cases, 500 were petitions for discretionary review, and 1,151 were applications for writs of habeas corpus.