The 949 Petitions for Review and 55 Applications for Writs of Error filed during fiscal year 1998 represented a 2.1 percent increase from the 983 applications filed in fiscal year 1997, and was 0.2 percent lower than the 10-year average of 1,006.
The Court "passed on" (disposed of or otherwise acted upon) a total of 3,204 matters during fiscal year 1998, an increase of 5.5 percent from the 3,037 matters passed on in fiscal year 1997.
During fiscal year 1998, the justices of the Supreme Court wrote 222 opinions (or an average of 24.7 opinions each), 24 percent more than the 179 opinions written in fiscal year 1997 and 2.8 percent more than the 10-year average of 216. About 63.5 percent, or 141, of the opinions written in 1998 were deciding opinions which disposed of causes.
The 471 cases added to the docket of the Court of Criminal Appeals in fiscal year 1998 represented a decrease of 11.6 percent from the 533 cases added during fiscal year 1997.
Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals wrote 652 opinions during fiscal year 1998, of which 417, or 64.0 percent, were "deciding" opinions disposing of cases. The remainder were dissents, concurrences, and opinions on rehearings. Of the deciding opinions, 131 were signed and 286 were per curiam. During 1997, members of the Court wrote 747 opinions, 75.6 percent of which were deciding opinions.
The courts disposed of 11,736 total cases during the year, an average of 147 dispositions (88 criminal and 59 civil) per justice. The pending caseload increased from 10,809 at the beginning of the fiscal year 1998 to 11,575 at the end of the fiscal year.
A total of 12,502 cases were added to the dockets of the Courts of Appeals during the fiscal year, which included 7,144 criminal cases and 5,358 civil cases. This was an increase of 8.5 percent from the 11,523 total cases added in fiscal year 1997. Criminal cases increased 6.3 percent from the 6,718 added in fiscal year 1997 and civil cases increased 11.5 percent from the 4,805 added in fiscal year 1997.
The average lapse of time between the filing of a civil case in a Court of Appeals and its disposition ranged from 5.3 months in the Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana to 11.9 months in the Thirteenth Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi. The average lapse of time in the 14 courts for civil cases was 8.5 months.
The average lapse of time between the filing of a criminal case in a Court of Appeals and its disposition ranged from 7.6 months in the Tenth Court of Appeals in Waco to 20.3 months in the Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston. The average lapse of time for the 14 courts was 12.1 months.
In fiscal year 1998, the justices
of the Courts of Appeals wrote 11,457 opinions, 9.3 percent more than the 10,480 written
Thirty-six death sentences (compared to 34 in 1997) and 374 life sentences were assessed in the district courts during the year. Of the 211,630 criminal cases disposed by the district courts, 33 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 47 percent took over four months.
Criminal cases added to the docket increased 0.6 percent in the ten urban counties during fiscal year 1998 as compared to 1997. This compares to 0.4 percent decrease in criminal filings for all other counties of the State. Criminal filings increased in six of the ten urban counties: Collin (20 percent), Nueces (9 percent), El Paso (6 percent), Travis (5 percent), Dallas (2 percent), and Tarrant (2 percent). Counties reporting a decrease in criminal cases added to the docket were Bexar (2 percent), Harris (3 percent), Denton (6 percent), and Hidalgo (1 percent).
Civil cases accounted for 443,095 or 64 percent of all cases added during the fiscal year. Family law matters other than divorce actions comprised the largest segment of civil cases added, with 36 percent of civil case additions.
During the fiscal year, the district courts disposed of 100.3 percent of the total criminal and civil cases added to their dockets, compared to 101 percent in 1997.
District courts handled 2 percent less divorce actions during 1998 than during 1997. During the fiscal year, 120,756 divorce cases were disposed, 27 percent of all civil (non-juvenile) cases handled by district courts. Seventeen percent of divorce cases were dismissed.
The 539,273 civil cases pending in the district courts on August 31, 1998 represent a 2 percent decrease over the 547,966 pending on August 31, 1997. Criminal cases pending increased 6 percent, from 177,236 to 188,329.
During the twelve-month reporting period, the county-level courts of the State disposed of 48 percent of the 1,409,962 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 74.9 percent (571,998) of the 763,941 cases added to the dockets of the county courts. This figure includes all criminal, civil, and juvenile cases added to the dockets, as well as cases filed under probate and mental health. Civil cases accounted for 13.5 percent (102,794), probate cases represented 7.2 percent (55,185), mental health cases represented 3.4 percent (26,063), and juvenile cases represented 1.0 percent (7,901) of the total.
Total cases pending on the dockets of the county-level courts increased by 4 percent from 730,068 on September 1, 1997, to 759,665 on August 31, 1998.