During the state fiscal year 1997, municipal
courts operated in 851 Texas cities. Section 71.035 of
the Texas Government Code and Sections 171.1 and
171.2 of the Texas Administrative Code require each
court to submit a monthly activity report to the Texas
Judicial Council. Statewide, the Council received
9,418 reports out of a possible 10,212 for the year (a 92
percent reporting rate).
Reported Revenues Top $319 Million
Revenue collected by the reporting courts totaled $319,570,273 for the year, a 6 percent increase over the previous year. The amount of revenue per disposition, excluding dismissals, averaged $91.49. The courts deposit this revenue in the treasury of the city where the court has jurisdiction; however, certain court costs on each case are remitted to special funds of the State.
Traffic Cases Dominate Dockets; Non-Traffic Cases Increasing
Traffic cases comprised 83 percent of the total cases filed in the reporting courts during the year. Non-traffic criminal cases accounted for the other 17 percent of the cases filed. The composition of total cases filed has changed slightly since fiscal year 1993, when total cases filed were composed of 85 percent traffic cases and 15 percent non-traffic cases.
Of the traffic cases filed in fiscal
year 1997, 81 percent were for non-parking
violations with the remaining 19 percent for
parking-related offenses. Eighty-two percent
of non-traffic cases filed were for state law
violations with 18 percent related to
violations of local ordinances.
The number of non-traffic cases filed increased 31 percent over a five year period beginning fiscal year 1993. This was due mostly to the growth of the number of misdemeanors involving state law, which totaled 33 percent from fiscal year 1993. Misdemeanors involving city ordinances increased 24 percent from fiscal year 1993 to fiscal year 1997; however, the change between fiscal years 1996 and 1997 was less than one percent. While the number of non-traffic cases filed annually has increased each year over the past five years, the growth rate has gradually declined each year.
Between fiscal years 1993 and 1994, the number of non-traffic cases filed increased 11 percent. The change was less than five percent between fiscal years 1996 and 1997.
Appeals Continue to Decrease
The number of dispositions appealed decreased steadily from seven percent of dispositions at trial in fiscal year 1993 to less than two percent of dispositions at trial in fiscal year 1997. The municipal courts reported 72,904 appeals filed from 979,630 dispositions at trial in fiscal year 1993, and 24,953 appeals filed from 1,562,017 dispositions at trial in fiscal year 1997.
The greatest decline was observed in appeals filed for non-parking traffic cases. In fiscal year 1993, nine percent of the dispositions at trial were appealed, or 66,031 appeals filed from 741,293 dispositions. The number of cases appealed decreased to 21,656, or two percent of the 1,169,601 non-parking case dispositions at trial in fiscal year 1997.
Appeals of non-traffic dispositions at trial decreased approximately 53 percent from fiscal year 1993 to fiscal year 1997. There were 6,751 appeals filed in fiscal year 1993, and only 3,142 appeals filed in fiscal year 1997.