Texas Judicial System

Subject-Matter Jurisdiction Of The Courts

September 1, 1997

INTRODUCTION

The basic structure of the present court system of Texas was established by an 1891 constitutional amendment. The amendment established the Supreme Court, the highest state appellate court for civil matters, and the Court of Criminal Appeals, which makes the final determination in criminal matters. There are fourteen intermediate courts of appeals which exercise intermediate appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases.

The state trial courts of general jurisdiction are the district courts, of which there were 396 as of September 1, 1997. (Ten of these courts are designated "Criminal District Courts.")

The geographical area served by each district court is established by the specific statute creating that court and does not necessarily correspond to the area served by any previously established court. Each court has one judge. The State pays the base salary of each judge and some limited expenses of the judge.

In addition to these state courts, the Texas Constitution provides for a county court in each county, presided over by the county judge. The county judge also serves as head of the county commissioners court, the governing body of the county. To aid the constitutional county court with its judicial functions, the Legislature has established statutory county courts, designated as county courts at law or probate courts, in the more populous counties. As of September 1, 1997, there were 19 probate courts and 172 county courts at law in operation in 73 counties. Four additional courts have been authorized by the Legislature but have not been implemented as of September 1, 1997. Six additional courts have been authorized by the Legislature to become operational at a later date.

The Texas Constitution authorizes not less than one nor more than 16 justices of the peace in each county. Under this provision approximately 843 justice of the peace courts have been established. These courts also serve as small claims courts.

By statute, the Legislature has created municipal courts in each incorporated city in the State. These courts have original jurisdiction over violations of municipal ordinances and concurrent criminal jurisdiction with the justice of the peace courts over state law violations, limited to the geographical confines of the municipality.

Trials in the justice of the peace and most municipal courts are not of record, and appeals therefrom are by trial de novo to the county court, except in certain counties, as noted later, where the appeal is to a county court at law or to a district court. When an appeal is by trial de novo, the case is tried again in the higher court, just as if the original trial had not occurred.

Jurisdiction of the various levels of courts is established by constitutional provision and by statute. Statutory jurisdiction is established by general statutes providing jurisdiction for all courts on a particular level, as well as by the statutes establishing individual courts. Thus, to determine the jurisdiction of any one particular court, recourse must be had first to the Constitution, second to the general statutes establishing jurisdiction for that level of court, third to the specific statute authorizing the establishment of the particular court in question, fourth to statutes creating other courts in the same county (whose jurisdictional provisions may affect the court in question), and fifth to statutes dealing with specific subject matters (such as the Family Code, which requires, for example, that judges who are lawyers hear appeals from actions by non-lawyer judges in juvenile cases.)

The State provides full funding for the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals. It provides a base salary for the appellate and district judges of Texas. Most counties supplement this base salary for district courts and courts of appeals. Counties pay the costs of "constitutional" county courts, county courts at law, justice of the peace courts, and the operating costs of district courts except for the base salary of the judge. The cities finance the operation of municipal courts.

House Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act of the 74th Legislature, appropriated $146 million for the operations of the Texas judiciary -- including the Judicial Retirement System -- in fiscal year 1997. This represents only 0.36 of one percent of the $40.5 billion total state budget for fiscal year 1997.

APPELLATE COURTS

The appellate courts of the Texas Judicial System are: (1) the Supreme Court, the highest state appellate court for civil and juvenile cases; (2) the Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest state appellate court for criminal cases; and (3) the 14 courts of appeals, the intermediate appellate courts for civil and criminal appeals from the trial level courts.

Appellate courts do not try cases, have jurors, or hear witnesses. Rather, they review actions and decisions of the lower courts on questions of law or allegations of procedural error. In carrying out this review, the appellate courts are usually restricted to the evidence and exhibits presented in the trial court.

The Supreme Court

In 1836, the Supreme Court of Texas was first established by the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, which vested the judicial power of the Republic in "...one Supreme Court and such inferior courts as the Congress may establish." This Court was re-established by each successive constitution adopted throughout the course of Texas history. The various constitutions and amendments thereto, however, provided for different numbers of judges to sit on the Court and different methods for the selection of the judges. The Constitution of 1845 provided that the Supreme Court consist of a Chief Justice and two associate justices. The Constitution of 1866 provided for five justices, and the Constitution of 1869 reverted to a three-judge court; the Constitution of 1873 increased the number to five, and the Constitution of 1876 again reduced the membership to three. To aid the three justices in disposing of the ever increasing workload, the Legislature created two "Commissions of Appeals," each to consist of three judges appointed by the Supreme Court. This system, begun in 1920, continued until the adoption of the constitutional amendment of 1945 which abolished the two Commissions of Appeals and increased the number of justices on the Supreme Court to nine, the present number.

A constitutional amendment adopted in 1980 provides:

The Supreme Court shall exercise the judicial power of the state except as otherwise provided in this Constitution. Its jurisdiction shall be coextensive with the limits of the State and its determinations shall be final except in criminal law matters. Its appellate jurisdiction shall be final and shall extend to all cases except in criminal law matters and as otherwise provided in this Constitution or by law.

Thus, the Supreme Court of Texas has statewide final appellate jurisdiction in most civil and juvenile cases. The Supreme Court is empowered to make and enforce all necessary rules of civil trial practice and procedure, evidence, and appellate procedure, and to promulgate rules of administration to provide for the efficient administration of justice in the State. A constitutional amendment effective January 1, 1986, gave the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals jurisdiction to answer questions of state law certified from a federal appellate court. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to issue writs and to conduct proceedings for the involuntary retirement or removal of judges.

The Supreme Court is composed of one Chief Justice and eight justices, who are elected in partisan elections on a statewide basis for six-year terms of office. Vacancies between elections are filled by gubernatorial appointment with the advice and consent of the State Senate, until the next general election. To be eligible to serve as a justice of this Court, a person must be licensed to practice law in this State, be a citizen of the United States and of the State of Texas, be at least 35 years of age, and have been a practicing lawyer, or a lawyer and judge of a court of record together, for at least ten years.

In addition to its major responsibilities of hearing oral arguments, deciding cases appealed to it, and writing opinions, the Supreme Court has many administrative duties placed upon it by the Legislature to ensure the efficient administration of justice by the Texas judicial system. These duties include: (1) promulgating the Rules of Civil Procedure for the Texas judicial system (Gov't Code 22.004); (2) promulgating rules of administration for the Texas judicial system (Gov't Code 72.024); (3) equalizing the dockets of the 14 courts of appeals (Gov't Code 73.001); (4) promulgating the rules of procedure for the Commission on Judicial Conduct, and disciplining judges or removing judges from office (Gov't Code, Ch. 81); (5) supervising the operations of the State Bar of Texas and the rules and regulations for the admission, discipline, supervision, and disbarment of lawyers, and approving the law schools of the State (Gov't Code, Ch. 81); and (6) promulgating the rules for the operation of the Court Reporters Certification Board and the disciplinary rules enforced by this Board (Gov't Code 52.002).

The Chief Justice has the responsibility to: (1) confer with the presiding judges of the administrative judicial regions to promote the prompt dispatch of judicial business (Gov't Code 74.001); (2) assign judges between administrative judicial regions (Gov't Code 74.057); (3) assign retired appellate justices to the various courts of appeals on a temporary basis (Gov't Code 73.003); (4) deliver a "State of the Judiciary" message at the commencement of each regular session of the Legislature (Gov't Code 21.004); and (5) ensure that the Supreme Court executes and implements its administrative duties and responsibilities (Gov't Code 72.006).

The Court of Criminal Appeals

To relieve the Supreme Court of some of its caseload, the Constitution of 1876 created the Court of Appeals, composed of three elected judges, with appellate jurisdiction in all criminal cases and in those civil cases tried by the county courts. The judiciary article that was created by the constitutional amendment of 1891 changed the name of this court to the Court of Criminal Appeals and limited its jurisdiction to appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases only.

A constitutional amendment adopted in 1980 provides:

The Court of Criminal Appeals shall have final appellate jurisdiction coextensive with the limits of the State, and its determination shall be final, in all criminal cases of whatever grade, with such exceptions and under such regulations as may be provided in this Constitution or as prescribed by law.

The jurisdiction of the Court of Criminal Appeals extends to criminal cases heard by the intermediate courts of appeals and directly from the trial courts in all cases in which the death penalty has been imposed. The Court of Criminal Appeals (and the Supreme Court) have jurisdiction to answer questions of state law certified from a federal appellate court. In addition, the Legislature has authorized the Court of Criminal Appeals to promulgate rules of evidence and appellate procedure for criminal cases.

The Court of Criminal Appeals, as originally established, was composed of three judges. As its workload increased, the Legislature granted it the authority to appoint commissioners to aid in the disposition of pending cases. The number of judges on the Court was increased to five by a constitutional amendment adopted in 1966, and was again increased to nine by another constitutional amendment adopted in 1977.

Today, the Court of Criminal Appeals consists of a Presiding Judge and eight additional judges, who must have the same qualifications, and are elected in the same manner, as the justices of the Supreme Court.

The Courts of Appeal

The first intermediate appellate court in Texas was created by the Constitution of 1876, which created a Court of Appeals with appellate jurisdiction in all criminal cases and in all civil cases originating in the county courts. However, by 1891, the docket of the Supreme Court had become so crowded that it became apparent that other changes were necessary to expedite the disposition of appellate cases. Thus, the amendment of 1891 converted the Court of Appeals into the Court of Criminal Appeals and authorized the Legislature to establish intermediate courts of civil appeals located at various places throughout the State. The purpose of this amendment was to preclude the large quantity of civil litigation from further congesting the docket of the Supreme Court, while at the same time providing for a more convenient and less expensive system of intermediate appellate courts for civil cases. Under this authority, the Legislature has divided the State into 14 court of appeals districts and has established a court of appeals in each.

Courts of appeals are now located in the following cities: Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Eastland, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston (two courts), San Antonio, Texarkana, Tyler, and Waco.

Each court of appeals has jurisdiction of appeals from the trial courts located in its respective district. The appeals heard in these courts are based upon the "record" (a written transcription of the testimony given, exhibits introduced, and the documents filed in the trial court) and the written and oral arguments of the appellate lawyers. The courts of appeals do not receive testimony or hear witnesses in considering the cases on appeal.

Each of the courts of appeals has at least three judges--a chief justice and two other justices. However, the Legislature is empowered to increase this number whenever the workload of an individual court requires additional judges. The Dallas Court of Appeals has 13 justices, the two courts located in Houston (the First and the Fourteenth) each have nine justices, the courts located in Fort Worth and San Antonio each have seven, the courts located in Austin and Corpus Christi each have six, the courts located in El Paso and Amarillo each have four, and the remaining courts each retain the constitutional minimum number of three. There are now 80 judges serving on the 14 intermediate courts of appeals.

Judges of these courts are elected in partisan elections for six-year terms of office by the voters in their own districts. They must have the same qualifications for office as the justices of the Supreme Court of Texas.

TRIAL COURTS


The trial courts are those courts in which witnesses are heard, testimony is received, exhibits are offered into evidence, and a verdict is rendered. In a civil case, the verdict determines which party to the lawsuit prevails; in a criminal case, the verdict determines whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime alleged. Defendants in criminal cases and the parties in civil lawsuits have the right to a trial by a jury of either six or twelve local citizens. Except in capital murder cases, the parties have the right to waive a trial by jury and have the judge presiding over the case make the final determination. Generally, determinations made in the trial courts can be appealed to the appellate courts for review.

The trial court structure in Texas has several different levels, each level handling different types of cases. The state trial court of general jurisdiction is known as the district court. The county-level courts consist of the "constitutional" county courts, the "statutory" county courts, and the "statutory" probate courts. In addition, there are the municipal courts, located in each incorporated city of the State, and the justice of the peace courts, located in precincts of each county of the State.

District Courts

The district courts are the primary trial courts in Texas, the successor to the common law nisi prius courts. The Constitution of the Republic provided for not less than three nor more than eight district courts, each having a judge elected by a joint ballot of both houses of Congress for a term of four years. Most constitutions of the State continued the district courts but provided that the judges were to be elected by the qualified voters. (The exceptions were the Constitutions of 1845 and 1861 which provided for the appointment of judges by the Governor with confirmation by the Senate.) All of the constitutions have provided that the judges of these courts must be chosen from defined districts (as opposed to statewide election) and that court proceedings be conducted at the county seat of each county.

District courts are courts of general jurisdiction. A constitutional amendment adopted effective in November 1985 amends Article V, Section 8 of the Texas Constitution, in pertinent part, as follows:

District Court jurisdiction consists of exclusive, appellate, and original jurisdiction of all actions, proceedings, and remedies, except in cases where exclusive, appellate, or original jurisdiction may be conferred by this Constitution or other law on some other court, tribunal, or administrative body.

This provision, while it extends a district court's potential jurisdiction to "all actions," also makes such jurisdiction relative in that the court's jurisdiction excludes any matters in which exclusive, appellate, or original jurisdiction is conferred by law upon some other court. For this reason, while one can speak of the "general" jurisdiction of a district court, the actual jurisdiction of any specific court will always be limited by the constitutional or statutory provisions which confer exclusive, original, or appellate jurisdiction on other courts serving the same county or counties.

Taking into account the various constitutional and statutory provisions which confer general jurisdiction on other levels of court, it can be said that district courts generally have the following jurisdiction: original jurisdiction in all criminal cases of the grade of felony, and misdemeanors involving official misconduct; cases of divorce; suits for title to land or enforcement of liens on land; contested elections; suits for slander or defamation; suits on behalf of the State for penalties, forfeitures and escheat; and all civil matters wherein the amount in controversy is $200 or more. In those counties having statutory county courts at law, the district courts generally have exclusive jurisdiction in civil cases wherein the amount in controversy is $100,000 or more and concurrent jurisdiction with the statutory county courts at law in cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $500 but is less than $100,000.

The district courts hear contested matters involved in probate cases and have general supervisory control over commissioners courts. In addition, district courts have the power to issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, injunction, certiorari, sequestration, attachment, garnishment, and all writs necessary to enforce their jurisdiction.

Appeals from judgments of the district courts are to the Court of Appeals having jurisdiction over the locale of the district court.

As of September 1, 1997, there were 396 separate district-level courts in operation. Each is identified by separate numbers, each having its own judge elected by the voters of the judicial district. In a number of locations, the geographical jurisdiction of two or more district courts is overlapping.

A 1985 constitutional amendment established a Judicial Districts Board to reapportion Texas judicial districts, subject to legislative approval. The same amendment also allows for more than one judge per judicial district.

Most district courts exercise criminal and civil jurisdiction, but in the metropolitan areas there is a tendency for the courts to specialize in either civil, criminal, or family law matters. In some localities, the courts that exercise criminal jurisdiction exclusively are designated criminal district courts. A limited number of district courts also exercise the subject-matter jurisdiction normally exercised by county courts.

Specialized Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Legislature cannot reduce the constitutional jurisdiction of a district court. Lord v. Clayton, 163 Tex. 62, 352 S.W.2d 718 (1961); Ex Parte Richards, 137 Tex. 520, 155 S.W.2d 597 (1941); Reasonover v. Reasonover, 122 Tex. 512, 58 S.W. 2d 817 (1933); St. Louis S. W. Ry. v. Hall, 98 Tex. 480, 85 S.W. 786 (1905). Accord, Zamora v. State, 508 S.W.2d 819 (Tex. Crim App. 1974). See also, Ward v. State, 523 S.W.2d 681, 682 (Tex. Crim. App. 1975); Castro v. State, 124 Tex. Crim. 13, 60 S.W.2d 211 (1933); and dissenting opinion in Ex Parte Bazemore, 430 S.W.2d 205 (Tex. Crim. App. 1968).

In St. Louis S.W. Ry. v. Hall, the Supreme Court stated the rule as follows: "If the Legislature did enough to bring into active existence a district court, it was at once clothed with the powers conferred by the Constitution upon such courts, and any attempts in the act to unduly limit those powers must be treated as futile." 85 S.W. at 788. In Lord v. Clayton, the Supreme Court held that, although the statute creating the 136th District Court of Jefferson County purportedly limited its jurisdiction to civil cases only, and other legislation purported to give exclusive jurisdiction in criminal cases to the Criminal District Court of Jefferson County, the 136th Court was nevertheless a constitutional district court with full power to impanel a grand jury, receive an indictment, and try the accused.

A new facet has been added to this jurisdictional issue by the 1985 amendment of Article. V, Section 8 of the Constitution which now grants the district courts jurisdiction over all matters "except in cases where...jurisdiction may be conferred by this constitution or other law on some other court....".

Although the Legislature has not been able to divest a regular district court of any of its constitutional jurisdiction, the Legislature may, under its constitutional authority to create "other courts" (Tex. Const. art. V, sec. 1) establish special "district-level" courts with limited jurisdiction. See Jordan v. Crudgington, 231 S.W.2d 641 (Tex. 1950) (regarding the Court of Domestic Relations of Potter County); Ex Parte Richards, 137 Tex. 520, 155 S.W.2d 597 (1941) (regarding the Criminal District Court of Willacy County).

One "Criminal District Court" was created with jurisdiction limited to criminal, divorce, dependent and delinquent children, adoption, and civil habeas corpus proceedings:

Criminal District Court of Jefferson County.......... 24.920 

As will be noted later, most special "Criminal District Courts" have jurisdiction concurrent with county-level courts in criminal matters.

While the courts have ruled that the Legislature may not limit the jurisdiction of regular district courts, the statutes frequently express the intention that certain district courts give primary attention to only a portion of those matters over which they have jurisdiction.

The 65th Legislature, in 1977, converted all functioning domestic relations and special juvenile courts to district courts of general jurisdiction. However, these courts have primary responsibility for cases involving family law matters, including adoptions, birth records, divorce and marriage annulment, child welfare, custody, support and reciprocal support, dependency, neglect and delinquency, parent and child, and husband and wife. Section 24.601, Tex. Gov't Code. Section 24.601 does not limit other district courts' jurisdiction nor relieve them of responsibility for handling cases involving family law matters. Courts with primary responsibility for handling family law matters are known as "Family District Courts." There are now 32 such courts:

300th Brazoria............ 24.601, 24.608

301st Dallas............... 24.601, 24.609

302nd Dallas............... 24.601, 24.610

303rd Dallas............... 24.601, 24.611

304th Dallas............... 24.601, 24.612

305th Dallas............... 24.601, 24.613

306th Galveston............... 24.601, 24.614

307th Gregg............... 24.601, 24.615

308th Harris............... 24.601, 24.616

309th Harris............... 24.601, 24.617

310th Harris............... 24.601, 24.618

311th Harris ............... 24.601, 24.619

312th Harris............... 24.601, 24.620

313th Harris............... 24.601, 24.621

314th Harris............... 24.601, 24.622

315th Harris............... 24.601, 24.623 

316th Hutchinson............... 24.601, 24.624

317th Jefferson............... 24.601, 24.625

318th Midland............... 24.601, 24.626

319th Nueces ............... 24.601, 24.627

320th Potter............... 24.601, 24.628

321st Smith ............... 24.601, 24.629

322nd Tarrant............... 24.601, 24.630

323rd Tarrant............... 24.601, 24.631

324th Tarrant............... 24.601, 24.632

325th Tarrant............... 24.601, 24.633

326th Taylor............... 24.601, 24.634

327th El Paso............... 24.601, 24.635

328th Fort Bend............... 24.601, 24.636

329th Wharton............... 24.601, 24.637

330th Dallas............... 24.601, 24.638

360th Tarrant............... 24.601, 24.639

Ten district courts are to give preference to family law matters but are not designated as "Family District Courts":

231st Tarrant............... 24.408

233rd Tarrant............... 24.410

245th Harris............... 24.422

246th Harris............... 24.423

247th Harris............... 24.424

254th Dallas............... 24.431

255th Dallas............... 24.432

256th Dallas............... 24.433

257th Harris ............... 24.434

279th Jefferson ........... 24.456

One district court is directed by statute to give first preference to family law cases and second preference to criminal cases:

148th Nueces............... 24.353

Another district court is directed to give primary preference to cases under Titles 2, 3 or 5 of the Family Code and secondary preference to criminal cases:

289th Bexar............... 24.466, 24.139 5

Forty-eight district courts are instructed to give preference to criminal cases:

105th Nueces, Kenedy, Kleberg............... 24.207

107th Cameron, Willacy............... 24.209

138th Cameron, Willacy............... 24.240

144th Bexar*............... 24.245, 24.139, 75.013

147th Travis............... 24.248

175th Bexar*............... 24.268, 24.139, 75.013

182nd Harris............... 24.362

183rd Harris............... 24.363 6

184th Harris............... 24.364

185th Harris............... 24.365

186th Bexar*............... 24.274, 24.139, 75.013

187th Bexar*............... 24.366, 24.139, 75.013

194th Dallas............... 24.373

195th Dallas ............... 24.374

197th Cameron, Willacy............... 24.376

202nd Bowie ............... 24.381

203rd Dallas............... 24.382

204th Dallas............... 24.383

205th Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth............... 24.384

207th Caldwell, Comal, Hays............... 24.386

208th Harris............... 24.387

209th Harris ............... 24.388

214th Nueces............... 24.393

226th Bexar*............... 24.404, 24.139, 75.013

227th Bexar*............... 24.405, 24.139, 75.013

228th Harris............... 24.406

230th Harris............... 24.407

232nd Harris............... 24.409

248th Harris............... 24.425

252nd Jefferson............... 24.429

262nd Harris............... 24.439

263rd Harris............... 24.440

265th Dallas............... 24.442

282nd Dallas............... 24.459

283rd Dallas............... 24.460

290th Bexar*............... 24.467, 24.139, 75.013

291st Dallas ............... 24.468

292nd Dallas ............... 24.469

297th Tarrant............... 24.474

337th Harris............... 24.483

338th Harris............... 24.484

339th Harris............... 24.485

351st Harris............... 24.497

363rd Dallas............... 24.508

371st Tarrant............... 24.516

372nd Tarrant ............... 24.517

377th Victoria............... 24.522

Criminal District Court No. 4 of Tarrant County............... 24.913

("*" denotes those Bexar County district courts which are authorized to accept the return of indictments.)

Ten district courts are similarly instructed to give preference to civil cases:

103rd Cameron, Willacy............... 24.205

215th Harris............... 24.394

295th Harris............... 24.472

298th Dallas............... 24.475

333rd Harris............... 24.479 7

334th Harris............... 24.480

342nd Tarrant............... 24.488

345th Travis............... 24.491

348th Tarrant............... 24.494

352nd Tarrant............... 24.498

One district court is to give preference to civil cases and cases under Title 2 or 5 of the Family Code:

225th Bexar............... 24.403, 24.139 8

One district court is directed by statute to give preference to civil cases and cases under Title 3 of the Family Code:

73rd Bexar............... 24.175, 24.139 9

Also, in Bexar county, all civil cases are to be docketed in one of the eleven district courts which do not give preference to criminal cases. (This provision may not be mandatory on the clerk. See Lord vs. Clayton, 352 S.W.2d at 722):

37th Bexar............... 24.139

45th Bexar............... 24.147, 24.139

57th Bexar............... 24.159, 24.139

73rd Bexar............... 24.175, 24.139

131st Bexar............... 24.233, 24.139

150th Bexar............... 24.249, 24.139

166th Bexar............... 24.263, 24.139

224th Bexar............... 24.402, 24.139

225th Bexar............... 24.403, 24.139

285th Bexar............... 24.462, 24.139

288th Bexar............... 24.465, 24.139

As of September 1, 1997, 175 statutory county courts and 19 statutory probate courts had been created, largely in metropolitan areas. Four additional courts have been authorized by the Legislature but have not been implemented as of September 1, 1997. Six additional courts have been authorized to become operational at a later date. While the jurisdiction of these courts is generally carved out of that given to the constitutional county courts, the statutes specify in many instances that certain jurisdiction normally in the district court is to be exercised concurrently by the statutory county court and the district court.

In 1991, the 72nd Legislature passed H.B. 66, which provided that a statutory county court exercising civil jurisdiction of the county court, with certain exceptions enumerated in the statutes, has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in civil cases in which the matter in controversy exceeds $500 but does not exceed $100,000 (excluding interest, statutory or punitive damages and penalties, and attorney's fees and costs, as alleged on the face of the petition) and appeals of final rulings and decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission. Sec. 25.003, Tex. Gov't Code. A "statutory county court" means a county court created by the Legislature, including county courts at law, county criminal courts, county criminal courts of appeals, and county civil courts at law, but does not include statutory probate courts, other than a county court at law and probate court in Brazoria County.

Forty county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Bell County ............... 25.0162

County Court at Law No. 2 of Bell County ............... 25.0162

* County Court at Law No. 3 of Bell County ............... 25.0162

Effective 01/01/99 or on such earlier date as may be determined by the county commissioners.

County Court at Law No. 2 of Bexar County............... 25.0172

County Court at Law No. 3 of Bexar County............... 25.0172

County Court at Law No. 4 of Bexar County............... 25.0172

County Court at Law No. 5 of Bexar County............... 25.0172

County Court at Law No. 6 of Bexar County............... 25.0172

County Court at Law No. 7 of Bexar County............... 25.0172

County Court at Law No. 8 of Bexar County............... 25.0172

County Court at Law No. 9 of Bexar County............... 25.0172

County Court at Law No. 1 of Cameron County ............... 25.0332

County Court at Law No. 2 of Cameron County............... 25.0332

* County Court at Law No. 3 of Cameron County............... 25.0332
Effective but not implemented as of 09/01/97.

County Court at Law No. 1 of Collin County............... 25.0452

County Court at Law No. 2 of Collin County............... 25.0452

County Court at Law No. 3 of Collin County............... 25.0452

County Court at Law No. 4 of Collin County............... 25.0452

County Court at Law of Erath County............... 25.0741

County Court at Law of Grayson County............... 25.0932

County Court at Law No. 2 of Grayson County ............... 25.0932

County Court at Law of Harrison County............... 25.1042

County Court at Law of Hunt County............... 25.1182

County Court at Law No. 1 of Jefferson County............... 25.1252

County Court at Law No. 2 of Jefferson County............... 25.1252

County Court at Law No. 3 of Jefferson County............... 25.1252

County Court at Law No. 1 of Potter County............... 25.1902

County Court at Law of Taylor County............... 25.2232

County Court at Law No. 2 of Taylor County............... 25.2232

County Court at Law of Tom Green County ............... 25.2282

County Court at Law No. 2 of Tom Green County............... 25.2282

County Court at Law No. 1 of Travis County............... 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 2 of Travis County............... 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 3 of Travis County............... 25.2292

* County Court at Law No. 4 of Travis County ............... 25.2292
Effective 01/01/99.

County Court at Law No. 5 of Travis County ............... 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 6 of Travis County............... 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 7 of Travis County............... 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 1 of Victoria County............... 25.2372

County Court at Law No. 2 of Victoria County ............... 25.2372

One statutory probate court, as provided in the statute establishing the court, has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law No. 1 and Probate Court of Bexar

County ............... 25.0173 12

The specific statutes creating individual statutory county courts or statutory probate courts often provide that these courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in matters normally exercised by the district court. This jurisdiction may be additional to or different than the concurrent jurisdiction granted to some statutory county courts by H.B. 66, as discussed above.

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in all matters:

County Court at Law of Panola County............... 25.1852 13

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in family law matters and civil cases:

County Court at Law of Rusk County ............... 25.7032. 14

Five county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in civil cases regardless of the amount in controversy:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Dallas County ............... 25.0592

County Court at Law No. 2 of Dallas County............... 25.0592

County Court at Law No. 3 of Dallas County............... 25.0592 15

County Court at Law No. 4 of Dallas County............... 25.0592

County Court at Law No. 5 of Dallas County............... 25.0592

Two county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in family law cases and all criminal cases:

* County Court at Law of Bee County............... 25.0152

Effective 01/01/2000 or on such earlier date as may be determined by the county commissioners.

* County Court at Law of Matagorda County ............... 25.1632 16

Effective 01/01/2001 or on such earlier date as may be determined by the county commissioners.

Four county courts at law have regular statutory county court jurisdiction and concurrent jurisdiction with the district courts in all matters except felony official misconduct, contested elections, and family law cases:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Nueces County............... 25.1802

County Court at Law No. 2 of Nueces County............... 25.1802 17

County Court at Law No. 3 of Nueces County............... 25.1802

County Court at Law No. 4 of Nueces County............... 25.1802

Two statutory probate courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in eminent domain cases and suits involving title to real or personal property:

Probate Court No. 1 of Bexar County............... 25.0173

Probate Court No. 2 of Bexar County............... 25.0173

Forty-eight county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Angelina County............... 25.0052

County Court at Law No. 2 of Angelina County............... 25.0052

County Court at Law of Austin County............................ 25.0102

County Court at Law of Bastrop County......................... 25.0132

County Court at Law No. 1 of Brazos County................ 25.0232

County Court at Law No. 2 of Brazos County ............... 25.0232

County Court at Law of Caldwell County ...................... 25.0302

County Court at Law of Cherokee County ..................... 25.0392

County Court at Law of Comal County........................... 25.0482

County Court at Law of Coryell County.......................... 25.0522

County Court at Law of Ector County............................. 25.0702

County Court at Law No. 2 of Ector County................... 25.0702

County Court at Law of Ellis County............................... 25.0722

County Court at Law No. 1 of Fort Bend County............. 25.0812

County Court at Law No. 2 of Fort Bend County.............. 25.0812

County Court at Law No. 3 of Fort Bend County.............. 25.0812

County Court at Law No. 1 of Galveston County............... 25.0862

County Court at Law No. 2 of Galveston County............... 25.0862

County Court at Law of Gregg County............................... 25.0942

County Court at Law of Guadalupe County ....................... 25.0962

County Court at Law No. 1 of Hays County ..................... 25.1072

County Court at Law No. 2 of Hays County ..................... 25.1072

County Court at Law of Henderson County..................... 25.1092

County Court at Law of Houston County......................... 25.1152

County Court at Law No. 1 of Johnson County............... 25.1282

County Court at Law No. 2 of Johnson County............... 25.1282

County Court at Law of Kerr County.............................. 25.1352

County Court at Law of Liberty County .......................... 25.1482

County Court at Law No. 1 of Lubbock County............... 25.1542

County Court at Law No. 2 of Lubbock County............... 25.1542

County Court at Law No. 3 of Lubbock County............... 25.1542

County Court at Law of Medina County.......................... 25.1652

County Court at Law of Moore County.......................... 25.1732

County Court at Law of Nacogdoches County............... 25.1762

County Court at Law of Nolan County........................... 25.1792

County Court at Law of Orange County.......................... 25.1832

County Court at Law No. 2 of Potter County................. 25.1902

County Court at Law of Reeves County.......................... 25.1972

County Court at Law of Val Verde County..................... 25.2352

County Court at Law of Walker County........................ 25.2382

County Court at Law of Waller County......................... 25.2392

County Court at Law of Washington County................. 25.2412

County Court at Law No. 1 of Wichita County............... 25.2452

County Court at Law No. 2 of Wichita County............... 25.2452

* County Court at Law of Wilbarger County............... 25.2462

Court authorized effective 01/01/94; not implemented by county commissioners as of 09/01/97.

County Court at Law No. 1 of Williamson County............... 25.2482

County Court at Law No. 2 of Williamson County............... 25.2482

County Court at Law of Wise County............... 25.2512

Four statutory probate courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law No. 1

and Probate Court of Brazoria County............... 25.0222

County Court at Law No. 2

and Probate Court of Brazoria County............... 25.0222 20

County Court at Law No. 3

and Probate Court of Brazoria County............... 25.0222

Probate Court of Galveston County............... 25.0862

Four statutory county courts have felony jurisdiction concurrent with the district court over matters involving intoxication arising by a true bill of indictment by a grand jury charging one or more offenses under chapter 49, Penal Code:

County Criminal Court No. 1 of Denton County............... 25.0634 21

County Criminal Court No. 2 of Denton County ............... 25.0634

County Criminal Court No.3 of Denton County............... 25.0634

* County Criminal Court No. 4 of Denton County............... 25.0634

Effective 09/0198.

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in contested probate matters, family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law of Parker County............... 25.1862 22

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in tax cases, family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law of Polk County............... 25.1892 23

Three county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in matters involving an inter vivos trust, family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Montgomery County............... 25.1722

County Court at Law No. 2 of Montgomery County............... 25.1722 24

County Court at Law No. 3 of Montgomery County............... 25.1722

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in suits involving title to real property, family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law of Starr County............... 25.2162 25

One statutory probate court has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in eminent domain cases, suits involving title to real or personal property, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

Probate Court No. 2 of Bexar County............... 25.0173 26

One statutory probate court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in eminent domain, condemnation, landlord and tenant matters, the adjudication and determination of land titles and trusts, regardless of the amount in controversy or the remedy sought; civil forfeitures; appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the amount in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

Probate Court of Denton County............... 25.0635 27

Four statutory county courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in slander or defamation suits, suits involving the title to real or personal property, suits involving the enforcement of real property liens, suits involving the forfeiture of a corporate charter, suits involving the recovery of real property, suits involving the right to property valued

at $200 or more that has been levied on, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Civil Court at Law No. 1 of Harris County............... 25.1032

County Civil Court at Law No. 2 of Harris County............... 25.1032 28

County Civil Court at Law No. 3 of Harris County ............... 25.1032

County Civil Court at Law No. 4 of Harris County ............... 25.1032

Three county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in eminent domain proceedings, slander or defamation suits, suits involving the title to real or personal property, suits involving the enforcement of real property liens, suits involving the forfeiture of a corporate charter, suits involving the recovery of real property, suits involving the right to property valued at $200 or more that has been levied on, non-jury family law cases, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Tarrant County............... 25.2222

County Court at Law No. 2 of Tarrant County............... 25.2222 29

County Court at Law No. 3 of Tarrant County............... 25.2222

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court, except: felony jury trials, suits on behalf of the State to recover penalties or escheated property, misdemeanors involving official misconduct, contested elections, or civil cases when the amount in controversy exceeds $100,000:

County Court at Law of Hopkins County............... 25.1142 30

Two county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in civil cases, family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases with no upper limit on the amount in controversy:

County Court at Law of Randall County............... 25.1932

County Court at Law of Rusk County ............... 25.2032 31

Two county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in civil cases, family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases with a $ 50,000 limit on the amount in controversy:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Angelina County ............... 25.0052 32

County Court at Law No. 2 of Angelina County ............... 25.0025

Six county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in civil cases, family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases with a $ 500,000 limit on the amount in controversy:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Hidalgo County ............... 25.1101

County Court at Law No. 2 of Hidalgo County ............... 25.1101 33

County Court at Law No. 3 of Hidalgo County ............... 25.1101

County Court at Law No. 4 of Hidalgo County ............... 25.1101

County Court at Law of Midland County ............... 25.1672

County Court at Law No. 2 of Midland County ............... 25.1672

Seven county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court, except felony cases (other than those provided by law), misdemeanors involving official misconduct, or contested elections:

County Court at Law No. 1 of El Paso County............... 25.0732

County Court at Law No. 2 of El Paso County............... 25.0732

County Court at Law No. 3 of El Paso County............... 25.0732

County Court at Law No. 4 of El Paso County............... 25.0732 34

County Court at Law No. 5 of El Paso County............... 25.0732

County Court at Law No. 6 of El Paso County............... 25.0732

* County Court at Law No. 7 of El Paso County ............... 25.0732 Effective 10/01/98 or on such earlier date as may be determined by the county commissioners.

Three county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court, except felony cases, misdemeanors involving official misconduct, contested elections, or suits on behalf of the State to recover penalties, forfeiture, or escheat:

County Court at Law of Smith County ............... 25.2142

County Court at Law No. 2 of Smith County............... 25.2142 35

* County Court at Law No. 3 of Smith County............... 25.2142

Court authorized effective 05/15/97; but not implemented as of 09/01/97.

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court, except felony cases involving capital murder, suits on behalf of the State to recover penalties or escheated properties, misdemeanors involving official misconduct, or contested elections:

County Court at Law of Kaufman County............... 25.1312 36

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court, except felony cases (other than writs of habeas corpus), misdemeanors involving official misconduct, contested elections, or appeals from county court:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Calhoun County............... 25.0312 37

Two county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in proceedings to expunge a criminal arrest record, family law matters, appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Webb County............... 25.2422 38

County Court at Law No. 2 of Webb County............... 25.2422

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in felony cases to conduct arraignments, conduct pretrial hearings, and accept guilty pleas; family law matters; appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission; and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law of Kleberg County............... 25.1392 39

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in criminal cases; probate matters (including will contests); family law matters; actions under Title 9 of the Property Code; all suits arising under the Family Code; appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission; and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law of Anderson County............... 25.0032 40

One county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in probate matters, family law cases, felony cases to conduct arraignments, pretrial hearings and accept guilty pleas, and all suits arising under the Family code:

County Court at Law of Lamar County............... 25.1412 41

Two county courts at law have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in felony cases to conduct arraignments, conduct pretrial hearings, accept guilty pleas, and conduct probation revocation hearings; third degree felony cases; appeals of decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission; and civil cases when the matter in controversy does not exceed $100,000:

County Court at Law of McLennan County............... 25.1572 42

County Court at Law No. 2 of McLennan County............... 25.1572

Five statutory county courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the district court to conduct arraignments, conduct pretrial hearings, and accept guilty pleas in felony cases:

County Criminal Court No. 5 of Tarrant County ............... 25.2223 43

County Criminal Court No. 7 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 8 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 9 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 10 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

One statutory criminal law magistrate court has concurrent criminal jurisdiction with the district court, except to hear a trial of a felony offense on the merits if a jury trial is demanded or if a defendant pleads not guilty, impose sentence in a felony case unless the judge in whose court the case is pending assigned the case to the criminal law magistrate court for a guilty plea and sentence, or hear any part of a capital murder case after indictment:

El Paso Criminal Law Magistrate Court............... 54.733 44

A wide variety of statutory changes have been made blurring the line between district court jurisdiction and county court jurisdiction.

In six counties, all civil and criminal jurisdiction of the county court, except probate, has been transferred to the district court:

Bowie (5th, 102nd, 202nd District

Courts) ............... 24.105, 24.204, 24.381, 26.119

Cass (5th District Court) ............... 24.105,

Comal (22nd, 207th, 274th District

Courts)............... 24.123, 24.386, 24.451, 26.146

Jones (259th District Court) ............... 24.436, 26.227 45

Shackelford (259th District Court)............... 24.436, 26.309

Stephens(90th District Court) ............... 24.192, 26.315

Webb (49th District Court) ............... 24.151, 26.340

All civil jurisdiction of the county court, except probate, has been transferred to the district court in two counties, and the district court has concurrent with the county court the criminal jurisdiction of a county court:

Eastland (91st District Court)............... 24.193, 26.167 46

Morris (76th, 276th District Courts)............... 24.178, 24.453, 26.272

All civil and criminal jurisdiction of the county court, except probate and the jurisdiction to receive guilty pleas in misdemeanor cases, has been transferred to the district court in four counties:

Baylor (50th District Court)............... 24.152, 26.112

Cottle (50th District Court)............... 24.152; 26.151 47

King (50th District Court)............... 24.152, 26.235

Knox (50th District Court)............... 24.152, 26.238 47

In two counties, all civil and criminal jurisdiction of the county court, except probate, has been transferred to the district court, and the two levels of courts have been granted concurrent jurisdiction to receive guilty pleas in misdemeanor cases:

Cass (5th District Court) 24.105............... 26.134

Marion (115th, 276th District 48

Courts)............... 24.217, 24.453, 26.258

In another county, all civil cases, except those involving probate matters and orders providing for support of deserted wives or children, and all criminal cases appealed from the justice and municipal courts have been transferred to the district court, and the county and district courts have concurrent jurisdiction in matters in which the county court normally has original criminal jurisdiction:

Red River (6th, 102nd District

Courts) ............... 24.106, 24.204, 26.294 49

All civil jurisdiction of the county court, except probate, has been transferred to the district court in six counties:

Glasscock (118th District Court) ............... 24.220, 26.187

Mills (35th District Court)............... 24.137, 26.267

Navarro (13th District Court)............... 24.114, 26.275

Sabine (1st, 273rd District

Courts)............... 24.101, 24.450, 26.302 50

San Augustine (1st, 273rd District

Courts)............... 24.101, 24.450, 26.303

Wichita (30th, 78th, 89th District

Courts)............... 24.132, 24.180, 24.191, 26.343

Rather than transfer jurisdiction absolutely from the county court to the district court, the Legislature in several instances has given both the district-level and the county courts concurrent jurisdiction in certain matters.

Five district courts have concurrent original and appellate criminal jurisdiction with the county court in matters normally in the county court:

9th Polk ............... 24.109

76th Camp ............... 24.178 51

76th Morris............... 24.178

207th Caldwell............... 24.386

258th Polk ............... 24.435

276th Camp ............... 24.453, 24.178 51

276th Marion ............... 24.453

276th Morris ............... 24.453

Seventeen district-level courts have concurrent original criminal jurisdiction with the statutory county criminal courts in matters of county court original criminal jurisdiction:

14th Dallas............... 24.901, 24.115

44th Dallas............... 24.146, 24.901, 24.115

68th Dallas............... 24.170, 24.901, 24.115

95th Dallas............... 24.197, 24.901, 24.115

101st Dallas............... 24.203, 24.901, 24.115

116th Dallas............... 24.218, 24.901, 24.115

134th Dallas............... 24.236, 24.901, 24.115

160th Dallas............... 24.257, 24.901, 24.115

162nd Dallas............... 24.259, 24.901, 24.115 52

Criminal District Court of Dallas County............... 24.901,24.115

Criminal District Court No. 2 of Dallas

County............... 24.902, 24.901, 24.115

Criminal District Court No. 3 of Dallas

County............... 24.903, 24.901, 24.115

Criminal District Court No. 4 of Dallas

County............... 24.904, 24.901, 24.115

Criminal District Court No. 5 of Dallas

County............... 24.905, 24.901, 24.115

Criminal District Court No. 1 of Tarrant

County ............... 24.910

Criminal District Court No. 2 of Tarrant

County ............... 24.910, 24.911 52

Criminal District Court No. 3 of Tarrant

County ............... 24.910, 24.912

The statute creating one criminal district court provides that it shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the county courts at law of misdemeanor cases normally within the exclusive jurisdiction of the county courts at law:

Criminal District Court of Jefferson County ............... 24.920 53

In seven counties, the district and county courts have concurrent jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters normally vested solely in the county court:

Chambers (344th District Court)............... 24.490

Hardin (356th District Court)............... 24.502

Hill (66th District Court)............... 24.168, 26.209

Upshur (115th District Court)............... 24.217, 26.330 54

Van Zandt (294th District Court)............... 24.471

Wood (294th District Court)............... 24.471

Zapata (49th District Court)............... 24.151

In one county, if the county judge is licensed to practice law in Texas and has practiced for at least two years, the jurisdiction of the constitutional county court is expanded to include (concurrent with the district court) family law cases, eminent domain, and civil matters when the amount in controversy does not exceed $20,000:

Fayette............... 26.175

County-Level Courts

The county courts were established by the Constitution of 1836. They were presided over by a chief justice appointed by the Congress of the Republic of Texas for a term of four years. This continued from 1836 to 1841, when the office was made elective. The term was shortened to two years in the Constitutions of 1845 and 1861. Under the Constitution of 1866, the name of the presiding officer of the court was changed from chief justice to county judge, and the term of office was again established at four years.

The county court was abolished by the Constitution of 1869, but was re-established by the Constitution of 1876 with an elected presiding officer, the county judge, serving a two-year term. The term of office was increased to four years by a constitutional amendment adopted in 1954.

Today, the Texas Constitution provides for a county court in each county. Generally, "constitutional" county courts have concurrent jurisdiction with justice of the peace courts in civil cases where the matter in controversy exceeds $200 but does not exceed $5,000; concurrent jurisdiction with the district courts in civil cases where the matter in controversy exceeds $500 but does not exceed $5,000; general jurisdiction over probate cases; juvenile jurisdiction; and exclusive original jurisdiction over misdemeanors, other than those involving official misconduct, where punishment for the offense, upon conviction, is by fine exceeding $500 and/or a jail sentence not to exceed one year. County courts generally have appellate jurisdiction (usually by trial de novo) over cases tried originally in the justice of the peace courts and municipal courts. Original and appellate judgments of the county courts may be appealed to the Courts of Appeals.

The Constitution provides that the county judge "shall be well informed in the law of the State ...". This has been interpreted to mean that neither formal study of the law nor a license to practice law is a necessary qualification to hold office as county judge. Currently, of the 254 county judges in the State, approximately 12 percent are licensed to practice law.

Under its constitutional authorization to "...establish such other courts as it may deem necessary...[and to] conform the jurisdiction of the district and other inferior courts thereto," the Legislature has created statutory county courts and statutory probate courts, primarily in metropolitan counties, to provide assistance to the single "constitutional" county court. The Legislature has authorized a total of 195 of these statutory courts in 76 counties to relieve the county judge of some or all of the judicial duties of office. As of September 1, 1997, 191 of these courts were in actual operation in 73 counties. (See list which follows.)

Under the constitutional grant of authority the Legislature has established the following statutory county courts and statutory probate courts (the number of statutory courts in each county is shown in parentheses):

Anderson (1)   County Court at Law

Angelina (2)   County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2

Austin (1) County Court at Law

Bastrop (1) County Court at Law

Bee (1) * County Court at Law
Effective 01/01/2000 or on such earlier date as may be determined by the county commissioners.

Bell (3) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
* County Court at Law No. 3
Effective 01/01/99 or on such earlier date as may be determined by the county commissioners.

Bexar (11) County Court at Law No. 1 and Probate Court
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3
County Court at Law No. 4
County Court at Law No. 5
County Court at Law No. 6
County Court at Law No. 7
County Court at Law No. 8
County Court at Law No. 9
Probate Court No. 1
Probate Court No. 2

Brazoria (3) County Court at Law No. 1 and Probate Court
County Court at Law No. 2 and Probate Court
County Court at Law No. 3 and Probate Court

Brazos (2) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2

Burnet (1) * County Court at Law
Effective but not implemented as of 09/01/97.

Caldwell (1) County Court at Law

Calhoun (1) County Court at Law No. 1

Cameron (3) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
* County Court at Law No. 3
Effective but not implemented as of 09/01/97.

Cherokee (1) County Court at Law

Collin (4) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3
County Court at Law No. 4

Comal (1) County Court at Law

Coryell (1) County Court at Law

Dallas (20) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3
County Court at Law No. 4
County Court at Law No. 5
County Criminal Court
County Criminal Court No. 2
County Criminal Court No. 3
County Criminal Court No. 4
County Criminal Court No. 5
County Criminal Court No. 6
County Criminal Court No. 7
County Criminal Court No. 8
County Criminal Court No. 9
County Criminal Court No.10
County Criminal Court of Appeals
County Criminal Court of Appeals No. 2
Probate Court
Probate Court No. 2
Probate Court No. 3

Denton (6) County Court at Law No. 1
County Criminal Court No. 1
County Criminal Court No. 2
County Criminal Court No. 3
* County Criminal Court No. 4
Effective 09/01/98.
Probate Court

Ector (2) County Court at Law
County Court at Law No. 2

Ellis (1) County Court at Law

El Paso (8) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3
County Court at Law No. 4
County Court at Law No. 5
County Court at Law No. 6
* County Court at Law No. 7
Effective 10/01/98 or on such earlier date as may
be determined by the county commissioners.

Probate Court

Erath (1) County Court at Law

Fort Bend (3) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3

Galveston (3) County Court No. 1
County Court No. 2
Probate Court

Grayson (2) County Court at Law
County Court at Law No. 2

Gregg (1) County Court at Law

Guadalupe (1) County Court at Law

Harris (23) County Civil Court at Law No. 1
County Civil Court at Law No. 2
County Civil Court at Law No. 3
County Civil Court at Law No. 4
County Criminal Court at Law No. 1
County Criminal Court at Law No. 2
County Criminal Court at Law No. 3
County Criminal Court at Law No. 4
County Criminal Court at Law No. 5
County Criminal Court at Law No. 6
County Criminal Court at Law No. 7
County Criminal Court at Law No. 8
County Criminal Court at Law No. 9
County Criminal Court at Law No. 10
County Criminal Court at Law No. 11
County Criminal Court at Law No. 12
County Criminal Court at Law No. 13
County Criminal Court at Law No. 14
County Criminal Court at Law No. 15
Probate Court No. 1
Probate Court No. 2
Probate Court No. 3
Probate Court No. 4

Harrison (1) County Court at Law

Hays (2) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2

Henderson (1) County Court at Law

Hidalgo (4) County Court at Law
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3
County Court at Law No. 4

Hopkins (1) County Court at Law

Houston (1) County Court at Law

Hunt (1) County Court at Law

Jefferson (3) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3

Johnson (2) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2

Kaufman (1) County Court at Law

Kerr (1) County Court at Law

Kleberg (1) County Court at Law

Lamar (1) County Court at Law

Liberty (1) County Court at Law

Lubbock (3) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3

McLennan (2) County Court at Law
County Court at Law No. 2

Matagorda (1) * County Court at Law
Effective 01/01/2001 or on such earlier date as may be determined by the County Commissioners.

Medina (1) County Court at Law

Midland (2) County Court at Law
County Court at Law No. 2

Montgomery (3) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3

Moore (1) County Court at Law

Nacogdoches (1) County Court at Law

Nolan (1) County Court at Law

Nueces (4) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3
County Court at Law No. 4

Orange (1) County Court at Law

Panola (1) County Court at Law

Parker (1) County Court at Law

Polk (1) County Court at Law

Potter (2) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2

Randall (1) County Court at Law

Reeves (1) County Court at Law

Rusk (1) County Court at Law

San Patricio (1) County Court at Law

Smith (3) County Court at Law
County Court at Law No. 2
* County Court at Law No. 3
Court authorized effective 05/15/1997; but not implemented as of 09/01/97.

Starr (1) County Court at Law

Tarrant (15) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3
County Criminal Court No. 1
County Criminal Court No. 2
County Criminal Court No. 3
County Criminal Court No. 4
County Criminal Court No. 5
County Criminal Court No. 6
County Criminal Court No. 7
County Criminal Court No. 8
County Criminal Court No. 9
County Criminal Court No. 10
Probate Court
Probate Court No. 2

Taylor (2) County Court at Law
County Court at Law No. 2

Tom Green (2) County Court at Law
County Court at Law No. 2

Travis (8) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2
County Court at Law No. 3
* County Court at Law No. 4
Effective 01/01/99.
County Court at Law No. 5
County Court at Law No. 6
County Court at Law No. 7
Probate Court No. 1

Val Verde (1) County Court at Law

Victoria (2) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2

Walker (1) County Court at Law

Waller (1) County Court at Law

Washington (1) County Court at Law

Webb (2) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2

Wichita (2) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2

Wilbarger (1) * County Court at Law
Court authorized effective 01/01/94; but was not implemented by the county commissioners as of 09/01/97.

Williamson (2) County Court at Law No. 1
County Court at Law No. 2

Wise (1) County Court at Law

The judges of these statutory courts are elected in countywide, partisan elections for four-year terms. Any vacancies occurring between elections are filled by appointment of the county commissioners. The statutes creating these courts uniformly require that the persons serving as judges must be licensed to practice law in Texas.

The legal jurisdiction of the special county courts varies considerably and is determined by the specific statute that establishes the particular court. As the varied names suggest, some of these courts have subject-matter jurisdiction in only limited fields, such as civil, criminal, probate, or appellate (from justice courts or municipal courts); however, even the specialized name does not always disclose the complete function of the court. To determine the exact jurisdiction of any one of the statutory county courts, it is necessary to review the specific statute that established it.

In general, statutory county courts, which have jurisdiction to exercise civil jurisdiction concurrent with the constitutional jurisdiction of the county court, have concurrent jurisdiction with district courts in civil matters when the amount in controversy is more than $500 and less than $100,000 and appeals of final rulings and decisions of the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission. Statutory county courts also have, concurrent with the county court, the probate jurisdiction provided by general law for county courts. However, in a county that has a statutory probate court, the statutory probate court is the only statutory county court with probate jurisdiction. Other jurisdiction of a statutory county court is, broadly speaking, either carved out of the constitutional county court's regular jurisdiction or shared with it (concurrent).

The jurisdiction of statutory county courts and their relation to the constitutional county courts take many forms. For eight county courts at law, all civil, criminal, and probate jurisdiction of the county court was transferred to the statutory county court:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Denton County................. 26.161

County Criminal Court No. 1 of Denton County............... 26.161

County Criminal Court No. 2 of Denton County............... 26.161

County Criminal Court No. 3 of Denton County............... 26.161

* County Criminal Court No. 4 of Denton County............... 26.161
Effective 09/01/98.

Probate Court of Denton County............... 26.161

County Court at Law of Nacogdoches County............... 26.274, 25.1762

County Court at Law of Reeves County............... 26.295, 25.1972

In one county, all civil and criminal jurisdiction of the county court was transferred to the county court at law but, if the county judge is an attorney, the county court exercises concurrent jurisdiction with the county court at law in all matters over which county courts have jurisdiction generally. If the county judge is not an attorney, the county court exercises concurrent jurisdiction with the county court at law only in probate and mental health matters:

County Court at Law of Bastrop County............... 26.111, 25.0132  

For 29 county courts at law, all civil and criminal jurisdiction of the county court was transferred to the county court at law and the courts have concurrent jurisdiction in probate matters:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Brazos County............... 26.121, 25.0232

County Court at Law No. 2 of Brazos County............... 26.121, 25.0232

County Court at Law No. 1 of Cameron County............... 26.131, 25.0332

County Court at Law No. 2 of Cameron County............... 26.131, 25.0332

* County Court at Law No. 3 of Cameron County............... 26.131, 25.0332
Effective but not implemented as of 09/01/97.

County Court at Law No. 1 of Collin County............... 26.143, 25.0452

County Court at Law No. 2 of Collin County............... 26.143, 25.0452

County Court at Law No. 3 of Collin County............... 26.143, 25.0452

County Court at Law No. 4 of Collin County............... 26.143, 25.0452

County Court at Law of Grayson County............... 26.191, 25.0932

County Court at Law No. 2 of Grayson County............... 26.191, 25.0932

County Court at Law of Hidalgo County............... 26.208, 25.1102

County Court at Law No. 2 of Hidalgo County............... 26.208, 25.1102

County Court at Law No. 3 of Hidalgo County............... 26.208, 25.1102

County Court at Law No. 4 of Hidalgo County............... 26.208, 25.1102

County Court of Jefferson County at Law No. 1............... 26.223, 25.252 

County Court of Jefferson County at Law No. 2............... 26.223, 25.252

County Court at Law No. 1 of Lubbock County............... 26.252, 25.1542

County Court at Law No. 2 of Lubbock County............... 26.252, 25.1542

County Court at Law No. 3 of Lubbock County............... 26.252, 25.1542

County Court at Law No. 1 of Nueces County............... 26.278, 25.1802

County Court at Law No. 2 of Nueces County............... 26.278, 25.1802

County Court at Law No. 3 of Nueces County............... 26.278, 25.1802

County Court at Law No. 4 of Nueces County............... 26.278, 25.1802

County Court at Law of Taylor County............... 26.321, 25.2232

County Court at Law No. 2 of Taylor County............... 26.321, 25.2232

County Court at Law of Walker County............... 26.336, 25.2382

County Court at Law of Waller County............... 26.237, 25.2392

County Court at Law of Washington County............... 26.339, 25.2412

One county court at law had transferred to it all civil and criminal jurisdiction of the county court and the courts have concurrent jurisdiction in probate matters, and the county court at law is instructed to give preference to criminal cases:

County Court of Jefferson County at Law No. 3............... 25.1252; 26.223

Three county courts at law exercise concurrent jurisdiction with at least one of the district courts in the county in all civil and criminal matters that had earlier been transferred from the county court to the district court. The county court at law and county court have concurrent probate jurisdiction:

County Court at Law of Comal County............... 24.123, 25.0482, 26.146

County Court at Law No. 1 of Webb County............... 24.151, 25.2422, 26.340

County Court at Law No. 2 of Webb County............... 24.151, 25.2422, 26.340

For 21 county courts at law, all civil and criminal jurisdiction of the county court, except probate, was transferred to the county court at law:

County Court at Law No. 2 of Bexar County............... 25.0172, 26.115

County Court at Law No. 3 of Bexar County............... 25.0172, 26.115

County Court at Law No. 5 of Bexar County............... 25.0172, 26.115

County Court at Law No. 7 of Bexar County............... 25.0172, 26.115

County Court at Law No. 8 of Bexar County............... 25.0172, 26.115

County Court at Law No. 9 of Bexar County............... 25.0172, 26.115

County Court at Law No. 1 of El Paso County............... 26.171, 25.0732

County Court at Law No. 2 of El Paso County............... 26.171, 25.0732

County Court at Law No. 3 of El Paso County............... 26.171, 25.0732

County Court at Law No. 4 of El Paso County............... 26.171, 25.0732

County Court at Law No. 5 of El Paso County............... 26.171, 25.0732

County Court at Law No. 6 of El Paso County............... 26.171, 25.0732

* County Court at Law No. 7 of El Paso County............... 26.171, 25.0732
Effective 10/01/98.

County Court at Law No. 1 of Tarrant County............... 26.320, 25.2222

County Court at Law No. 1 of Travis County............... 26.327, 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 2 of Travis County............... 26.327, 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 3 of Travis County............... 26.327, 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 4 of Travis County............... 26.327, 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 5 of Travis County............... 26.327, 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 6 of Travis County............... 26.327, 25.2292

County Court at Law No. 7 of Travis County............... 26.327, 25.2292

Two county courts at law had transferred to them all civil and criminal jurisdiction of the county court, except probate, and the county courts at law were instructed to give preference to criminal matters and appeals de novo from municipal and justice courts:

County Court at Law No. 4 of Bexar County............... 25.0172, 26.115

County Court at Law No. 6 of Bexar County............... 25.0172, 26.115

All civil jurisdiction of the county court, except probate, was transferred to six statutory county courts:

County Civil Court at Law No. 1 of Harris County............... 25.1032, 26.201

County Civil Court at Law No. 2 of Harris County............... 25.1032, 26.201

County Civil Court at Law No. 3 of Harris County............... 25.1032, 26.201

County Civil Court at Law No. 4 of Harris County............... 25.1032, 26.201

County Court at Law No. 2 of Tarrant County............... 25.2222, 26.201

County Court at Law No. 3 of Tarrant County............... 25.2222, 26.201

In 65 instances, the constitutional county court and the county court at law have concurrent jurisdiction in all matters over which the constitutional county court normally has jurisdiction:

County Court at Law of Anderson County............... 25.0032

County Court at Law No. 1 of Angelina County............... 25.0052

County Court at Law No. 2 of Angelina County............... 25.0052

County Court at Law of Austin County............... 25.0102

* County Court at Law of Bee County
Effective 01/01/2000 or on such earlier date as may be determined by the county commissioners.

County Court at Law No. 1 of Bell County............... 25.0162

County Court at Law No. 2 of Bell County............... 25.0162

* County Court at Law No. 3 of Bell County............... 25.0162
Effective 01/01/99 or on such earlier date as may be determined
by the county commissioners.

County Court at Law of Burnet County............... 25.0292

County Court at Law of Caldwell County............... 25.0302

County Court at Law of Calhoun County............... 25.0312

County Court at Law of Cherokee County............... 25.0392

County Court at Law of Coryell County............... 25.0522

County Court at Law of Ector County............... 25.0702

County Court at Law No. 2 of Ector County............... 25.0702

County Court at Law of Ellis County............... 25.0722

County Court at Law No. 1 of Fort Bend County............... 25.0812

County Court at Law No. 2 of Fort Bend County............... 25.0812

County Court at Law of Gregg County............... 25.0942

County Court at Law of Guadalupe County............... 25.0962

County Court at Law of Harrison County............... 25.1042

County Court at Law No. 1 of Hays County............... 25.1072

County Court at Law No. 2 of Hays County............... 25.1072

County Court at Law of Henderson County............... 25.1092

County Court at Law of Hopkins County............... 25.1142

County Court at Law of Houston County............... 25.1152

County Court at Law of Hunt County............... 25.1182

County Court at Law No. 1 of Johnson County............... 25.1282

County Court at Law No. 2 of Johnson County............... 25.1282

County Court at Law of Kerr County............... 25.1352

County Court at Law of Kleberg County............... 25.1392

County Court at Law of Lamar County............... 25.1412

County Court at Law of Liberty County............... 25.1482

* County Court at Law of Matagorda County............... 25.1632
Effective 01/01/2001 or on such earlier date as may be determined by the county commissioners.

County Court at Law of McLennan County............... 25.1572

County Court at Law No. 2 of McLennan County............... 25.1572

County Court at Law of Medina County............... 25.1652

County Court at Law of Midland County............... 25.1672

County Court at Law No. 2 of Midland County............... 25.1672

County Court at Law No. 1 of Montgomery County............... 25.1722

County Court at Law No. 2 of Montgomery County............... 25.1722

County Court at Law No. 3 of Montgomery County............... 25.1722

County Court at Law of Moore County............... 25.1732

County Court at Law of Nolan County............... 25.1792

County Court at Law of Orange County............... 25.1832

County Court at Law of Panola County............... 25.1852

County Court at Law of Parker County............... 25.1862

County Court at Law of Polk County............... 25.1892

County Court at Law of Potter County............... 25.1902

County Court at Law No. 2 of Potter County............... 25.1902

County Court at Law of Randall County............... 25.1932

County Court at Law of Rusk County............... 25.2032

County Court at Law of San Patricio County............... 25.2072

County Court at Law of Smith County............... 25.2142

County Court at Law No. 2 of Smith County............... 25.2142

County Court at Law No. 3 of Smith County............... 25.2142

County Court at Law of Starr County............... 25.2162

County Court at Law of Tom Green County............... 25.2282

County Court at Law No. 2 of Tom Green County............... 25.2282

County Court at Law of Val Verde County............... 25.2352

County Court at Law of Victoria County............... 25.2372

County Court at Law No. 2 of Victoria County............... 25.2372

County Court at Law No. 1 of Williamson County............... 25.2482

County Court at Law No. 2 of Williamson County............... 25.2482

County Court at Law of Wise County............... 25.2512

In one county, concurrent jurisdiction may be exercised by the county court and the county court at law in all matters except civil cases over which the county court at law has exclusive jurisdiction. The county court at law may exercise probate and mental health jurisdiction only when the county judge is absent or unable to handle proceedings in those matters:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Wichita

County............... 25.2452, 26.343

One county court at law may exercise concurrent jurisdiction with the county court in all matters except civil cases, over which the county court at law has exclusive jurisdiction:

County Court at Law No. 2 of Wichita

County............... 25.2452, 26.343

Three statutory probate courts exercise concurrent jurisdiction with the county court in all matters, but give preference to cases in which the court's jurisdiction is concurrent with the county court:

County Court at Law No. 1 and
Probate Court of Brazoria County............... 25.0222

County Court at Law No. 2 and
Probate Court of Brazoria County............... 25.0222

County Court at Law No. 3 and
Probate Court of Brazoria County............... 25.0222


In eight counties, eight statutory probate courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the county court in probate matters only:

Probate Court No. 1 of Bexar County............... 25.0173

Probate Court of Dallas County............... 25.0595

Probate Court No. 2 of Dallas County............... 25.0595

Probate Court No. 1 of Harris County............... 25.1034

Probate Court No. 2 of Harris County............... 25.1034

Probate Court No. 4 of Harris County............... 25.1034

Probate Court No. 1 of Tarrant County............... 25.2224

Probate Court No. 2 of Tarrant County............... 25.2224


Two statutory probate courts exercise concurrent jurisdiction with the county court in all matters, but give preference to probate matters:

Probate Court No. 2 of Bexar County............... 25.0173 

Probate Court of Galveston County............... 25.0862

One statutory probate court exercises concurrent jurisdiction with the county court in probate matters and in matters arising under Subtitle D, Title 7, Health and Safety Code:

Probate Court No. 1 of Travis County............... 25.2293

Three statutory probate courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the county court in probate matters and are to have primary responsibility for mental illness proceedings:

County Court at Law No. 1 and Probate Court of Bexar County............... 25.0173

Probate Court No. 3 of Dallas County............... 25.0595

Probate Court No. 3 of Harris County............... 25.1034

Some statutory county courts have been created to handle criminal cases only. Thirty-nine have concurrent jurisdiction with the constitutional county court in criminal cases:

County Criminal Court of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 2 of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 3 of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 4 of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 5 of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 6 of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 7 of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 8 of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 9 of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 10 of Dallas County............... 25.0593

County Criminal Court No. 1 of Denton County............... 25.0634

County Criminal Court No. 2 of Denton County............... 25.0634

County Criminal Court No. 3 of Denton County............... 25.0634

* County Criminal Court No. 4 of Denton County............... 25.0634
Effective 9/1/98.

County Criminal Court at Law No. 1 of Harris County............... 25.1033  

County Criminal Court at Law No. 2 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 3 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 4 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 5 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 6 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 7 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 8 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 9 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 10 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 11 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 12 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 13 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court at Law No. 14 of Harris County............... 25.1033  

County Criminal Court at Law No. 15 of Harris County............... 25.1033

County Criminal Court No. 1 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 2 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 3 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 4 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 5 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 6 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 7 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 8 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 9 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

County Criminal Court No. 10 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

One statutory criminal law magistrate court has been created that handles criminal cases prescribed by law for county courts, except the magistrate court does not have jurisdiction to hear a trial of a misdemeanor offense on the merits, other than a class C misdemeanor, if a jury trial is demanded or if a defendant pleads not guilty:

El Paso Criminal Law Magistrate Court............... 54.733

Two statutory county courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the constitutional county court in criminal matters, and have sole jurisdiction of criminal appeals from justice of the peace and municipal courts:

County Criminal Court of Appeals of Dallas County............... 25.0594

County Criminal Court of Appeals No. 2 of Dallas County............... 25.0594

One statutory county court has concurrent jurisdiction in the county of criminal appeals from justice of the peace and municipal courts:

County Criminal Court No. 5 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223

Two statutory county courts have been instructed to give preference to cases involving family violence:

County Criminal Court No. 5 of Tarrant County............... 25.2223 

* Travis County Court at Law No. 4............... 25.2292
Effective 01/01/99.

Justice of the Peace Courts

The position of justice of the peace was established by the Constitution of the Republic which provided for a "convenient number of Justices of the Peace" to be elected by the qualified voters of each county, for terms of two years. This office has been retained in all subsequent constitutions, although the jurisdiction of these courts has been severely restricted in later constitutions.

The justice of the peace is important in the capacity as a committing magistrate, with the authority to issue warrants for the apprehension and arrest of persons charged with the commission of public offenses, both felonies and misdemeanors. As a magistrate, the justice of the peace may hold preliminary hearings, reduce testimony to writing, discharge the accused, or remand the accused to jail and set bail. In addition, the justice of the peace serves as the coroner in those counties where there is no provision for a medical examiner, serves as an ex officio notary public, and may perform marriage ceremonies.

As amended in November 1983, the Texas Constitution provides that each county is to be divided, according to population, into at least one, and not more than eight, justice precincts, in each of which is to be elected one or more justices of the peace. Approximately 839 justice of the peace courts are in operation today.

Justices of the peace are elected by the voters of the respective precincts of the county in partisan elections for four-year terms of office. There are no constitutional or statutory qualifications to hold this office and only about five percent of the justices of the peace in the State are lawyers.

Justice of the peace courts have original jurisdiction in misdemeanor criminal cases where punishment upon conviction may be by fine only. These courts generally have exclusive jurisdiction of civil matters when the amount in controversy does not exceed $200, and concurrent jurisdiction with the county courts when the amount in controversy is from $200.01 to $5,000. Justice of the peace courts also have jurisdiction over forcible entry and detainer cases and function as small claims courts. Trials in justice of the peace courts are not of record. Appeals from these courts are upon trial de novo in the county court, the county court at law, or the district court.

In 36 counties, the county court, by special statute, has been given concurrent jurisdiction with the justice of the peace courts in that county in all civil matters over which the justice of the peace courts have jurisdiction:

Armstrong County............... 26.106

Atascosa County............... 26.107

Bailey County............... 26.109

Bee County............... 26.113

Burleson County............... 26.126

Cochran County............... 26.140

Collingsworth County............... 26.144

Colorado County............... 26.145

Crosby County............... 26.154

Dawson County............... 26.158

Deaf Smith County............... 26.159

Dickens County............... 26.163 77

Fisher County............... 26.176

Gaines County............... 26.183

Garza County............... 26.185

Goliad County............... 26.188

Gonzales County............... 26.189

Haskell County............... 26.204

Hemphill County............... 26.206

Hockley County............... 26.210

Karnes County............... 26.228

Kent County............... 26.232

Lamb County............... 26.240

Lee County............... 26.244

Lynn County............... 26.253

McMullen County............... 26.256

Mitchell County............... 26.268

Parmer County............... 26.285

Randall County............... 26.291

Reagan County............... 26.292

Scurry County............... 26.308

Starr County............... 26.314

Stonewall County............... 26.317

Terry County............... 26.323

Wheeler County............... 26.342

Yoakum County............... 26.351

The county court in eight counties has been given concurrent jurisdiction with the justice of the peace courts in both civil and criminal matters normally in the justice of the peace courts:

Blanco County............... 26.116

Edwards County............... 26.169

Gillespie County............... 26.186

Irion County............... 26.218

Kimble County............... 26.234

Menard County............... 26.264

Schleicher County............... 26.307

Sterling County............... 26.316

In one county, the county courts at law have been given concurrent jurisdiction with the justice of the peace courts in civil matters prescribed by law for justice of the peace courts:

County Court at Law No. 1 of Potter County............... 25.1902

County Court at Law No. 2 of Potter County............... 25.1902

In eight counties, the county courts at law have been given concurrent jurisdiction with the justice of the peace courts in criminal matters prescribed by law for justice of the peace courts:

* County Court at Law of Bee County............... 25.0152
Effective 01/01/98 or on such earlier date as may be determined by
the county commissioners.

County Court at Law of Hopkins County............... 25.1142

* County Court at Law of Matagorda County............... 25.1632
Effective 01/01/98 or on such earlier date as may be determined by
the county commissioners.

County Court at Law No. 1 of Montgomery County............... 25.1722

County Court at Law of Nolan County............... 25.1792

County Court at Law of Panola County............... 25.1852

* County Court at Law of Wilbarger County............... 25.2462
Court authorized effective 01/01/94; not implemented by
the county commissioners as of 09/01/97.

County Court at Law No. 1 of Williamson County............... 25.2482

County Court at Law No. 2 of Williamson County............... 25.2482

Nine county courts at law have been given concurrent jurisdiction with the justice of the peace courts in both civil and criminal cases over which the justice of the peace courts normally have jurisdiction:

County Court at Law of Grayson County............... 25.0932

County Court at Law No. 2 of Grayson County............... 25.0932

County Court at Law No. 1 of Lubbock County............... 25.1542

County Court at Law No. 2 of Lubbock County............... 25.1542

County Court at Law No. 3 of Lubbock County............... 25.1542  

County Court at Law No. 1 of Nueces County............... 25.1802

County Court at Law No. 2 of Nueces County............... 25.1802

County Court at Law No. 3 of Nueces County............... 25.1802  

County Court at Law No. 4 of Nueces County............... 25.1802

Municipal courts

Under its constitutional authority to create "...such other courts as may be provided by law," the Texas Legislature has created municipal courts in each incorporated city of the State.

Presently, municipal courts are operating in approximately 850 cities. Metropolitan cities usually have more than one municipal court. These courts have no appellate jurisdiction, but do have original and exclusive jurisdiction over violations of city ordinances w punishable by a fine not to exceed: 1)$2,000 in cases arising under ordinances that govern litter, fire safety, zoning, public health, and sanitation; or 2) $500 in all other cases arising under a municipal ordinance. The municipal courts also have concurrent jurisdiction with justice courts in misdemeanor cases resulting from violations of state laws occurring within the city limits when punishment upon conviction is limited to a fine or the case arises under Ch. 106 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code relating to minors and does not include confinement as an authorized sanction. Municipal Courts also have limited civil jurisdiction in being able to assess civil penalties for owners of dangerous dogs. Furthermore, certain municipalities with a population in excess of 125,000 may declare the violation of city ordinances relating to parking and stopping vehicles to be civil offenses and prescribe civil fines, and establish an administrative adjudication hearing procedure for these offenses.

Municipal judges also serve as magistrates of the State. In this capacity, the municipal judge has authority to issue warrants for the apprehension and arrest of persons charged with the commission of public offenses, both felonies and misdemeanors. As a magistrate, the municipal judge may issue search and arrest warrants, hold preliminary hearings, reduce testimony to writing, discharge an accused, or remand the accused to jail and set bail.

Trials in the municipal courts, generally, are not of record, and appeals go to the county court, the county court at law, or the district court upon trial de novo.

Under the authority of special and general legislation, several municipal courts operate as "courts of record." In the courts of record, a formal record and transcript are made of the proceedings in the trial and appeals of these cases are made on the record perfected in the municipal courts. Such appeals are generally heard in the county court or county court at law, but the Legislature has authorized the City of El Paso to create a municipal court of appeals to hear appeals from that city's municipal courts. The statutes creating these municipal courts of record uniformly require the judge to be licensed to practice law in this State. No such provision is required of the other municipal judges, and of the approximately 1,186 municipal judges in this State, about 28 percent presently are licensed as attorneys.

Selection and terms of office of municipal court judges vary from city to city. While in a few cities, municipal judges are elected at city elections, the vast number are appointed by the governing body of the city. Terms of office are usually two years.

Index to
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Reference Numbers
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