The 983 applications for writs of error filed during fiscal year 1997 represented a 0.6 percent decrease from the 989 applications filed in fiscal year 1996, and was 2.2 percent lower than the 10-year average of 1,005.
The Court "passed on" (disposed of or otherwise acted upon) a total of 3,037 matters during fiscal year 1997, a decrease of 4.5 percent from the 3,181 matters passed on in fiscal year 1996.
During the fiscal year 1997, the justices of the Supreme Court wrote 179 opinions (or an average of 19.9 opinions each), 2.2 percent less than the 183 opinions written in fiscal year 1996 and 15.6 percent less than the 10-year average of 212.
The 505 cases added to the docket of the Court of
Criminal Appeals in fiscal year 1997 represented a decrease of
2.5 percent from the 518 cases added during fiscal year 1996,
which ended August 31, 1996.
Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals wrote 747
opinions during fiscal year 1997, of which 565 (75.6 percent)
were "deciding" opinions disposing of cases. The remainder
were dissents, concurrences, and opinions on rehearings. Of
the deciding opinions, 140 were signed and 425 were per
curiam. During 1996, members of the Court wrote 749 opinions,
71.3 percent of which were deciding opinions.
The Courts of Appeals disposed of 11,249 total cases during the year, an average of 141 dispositions (84 criminal and 57 civil) per justice. The pending caseload increased from 10,539 at the beginning of the fiscal year to 10,809 at the end of the year.
A total of 10,754 cases were filed in the Courts of Appeals during the fiscal year, which included 6,088 criminal cases and 4,666 civil cases. This was an increase of 0.1 percent from the 10,742 total new cases filed in fiscal year 1996. New criminal cases decreased 0.9 percent from the 6,146 filed in fiscal year 1996 and civil cases increased 1.5 percent from the 4,596 filed in fiscal year 1996.
The average lapse of time between the filing of a civil case in a Court of Appeals and its disposition ranged from 4.1 months in the Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana to 11.2 months in the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas. The average lapse of time in the 14 courts for civil cases was 7.9 months.
The average lapse of time between the filing of a criminal case in a Court of Appeals and its disposition ranged from 6.0 months in the Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana to 21.6 months in the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas. The average lapse of time for the 14 courts was 13.1 months.
In fiscal year 1997, the justices of the Courts of Appeals
wrote 10,480 opinions, 5.3 percent more than the 9,951 written
Thirty-four death sentences (compared to 40 in 1996) and 498 life sentences were assessed in the district courts during the year. Of the 209,335 criminal cases disposed by the district courts of Texas, 32 percent were disposed of in a period of less than two months from the date of indictment or information, 11 percent took two to three months, 9 percent took three to four months, and 48 percent took over four months.
Criminal cases added to the docket increased 4 percent in the ten urban counties during fiscal year 1997 as compared to 1996. This compares to 6 percent increase in criminal filings for all other counties of the State. Criminal filings increased in seven of the ten urban counties: Bexar (9 percent), Collin (5 percent), Dallas (5 percent), Denton (10 percent), El Paso (31 percent), Hidalgo (30 percent), and Travis (2 percent). Counties reporting a decrease in criminal cases added to the docket were Harris (0.8 percent), Nueces (16 percent), and Tarrant (1 percent).
Civil cases accounted for 65 percent of all new cases filed during the fiscal year. The largest segment of civil cases filed (38 percent of civil case additions) was family law matters other than divorce actions.
During the fiscal year, the district courts disposed of 101 percent of the total civil and criminal cases added to their dockets, compared to 99 percent in 1996.
District courts handled one percent less divorce actions during 1997 than during 1996. During the fiscal year, 123,765 divorce cases, or 26 percent of all disposed civil (non-juvenile) cases, were handled by district courts. Eighteen percent of divorce cases were dismissed.
The total number of civil cases pending in the district
courts on August 31, 1997, was 547,966 or two percent less
than the 559,646 pending on September 1, 1996. Criminal
cases pending increased 3 percent, from 177,236 to 182,391.
During the twelve-month reporting period, the county-level courts of the State disposed of 47 percent of the 1,391,722 total criminal, civil, and juvenile cases on their dockets (added during the year or carried over from the previous year).
From the number of cases reported, criminal cases constituted 72 percent (475,041) of the 660,346 new cases filed or appealed from lower courts. Civil cases accounted for 15 percent (96,947), probate cases represented eight percent (55,452), and mental health cases represented four percent (26,434). New juvenile cases filed represented one percent (6,472) of the total.
Total cases pending on the dockets of the county-level courts decreased by 0.5 percent from 737,618 on September 1, 1996, to 733,727 on August 31, 1997.