The Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest state court for criminal appeals and is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight judges.
Decisions of the Courts of Appeals in criminal cases may be appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals by petition for discretionary review, filed either by the State, or the defendant, or both. In addition, the Court may review a decision on its own motion. Appeal of death penalty cases is direct from the trial court to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Matters Added To The Docket
On Direct Appeals and Granted Petitions for Discretionary Review
During the state fiscal year 1998, which ended August 31, 1998, 471 cases were added to
the docket of the Court of Criminal Appeals, of which 173 were cases where discretionary
review was granted by the Court and 298 were direct appeals, death penalty appeals, writs
of habeas corpus granted, and extraordinary writs. Death penalty appeals in fiscal year
1998 numbered 44, compared to 76 in fiscal year 1997.
Figure 1 below provides a ten-year trend regarding cases added to the docket on direct appeal and by granted discretionary review.The 471 cases added in fiscal year 1998 represent a decrease of 11.6 percent from the 533 cases added during fiscal year 1997.
Other Matters Added
The Court had 1,983 petitions for discretionary review filed during fiscal year 1998, 18.2 percent more than the 1,677 filed during the previous year. Petitions for discretionary review were received from 141 counties, with 55.6 percent of them originating from Dallas, Harris, and Tarrant Counties. Applications for writs of habeas corpus filed during the year totaled 5,475, a 0.6 percent increase over the 5,444 filed in fiscal year 1997. Also, 2,305 other motions or applications were handled by the Court, a 30.1 percent increase from the 1,772 considered the previous year. Figure 2 on the following page details the activity regarding other matters added to the docket.
During fiscal year 1998, the Court disposed of 301 cases on direct appeal, compared to 447 such dispositions in fiscal year 1997. In 1998, those 301 dispositions represented 74.3 percent of all cases on the docket on direct appeal, that is, cases filed during the year or carried over from previous years. In fiscal year 1997, this disposition rate was 80.7 percent.
In fiscal year 1998, 1,739 petitions for discretionary review were disposed, 127, or 7.3 percent, of which were granted. The remainder were refused or dismissed. In fiscal year 1997, 1,644 petitions for discretionary review were disposed, 111, or 7.3 percent, of which were granted.
There were 1,644 applications for writs of habeas corpus disposed in fiscal year 1998,
compared to 5,709 in 1997, an increase of 8.4 percent.
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. Figure 3 below provides the
ten-year trend for total opinions written and "deciding" opinions (or original
opinions) written by the judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Total Pending Caseload
On August 31, 1998, 2,269 total matters (excluding miscellaneous motions and applications) were pending in the Court of Criminal Appeals. This represented an increase of 22.4 percent from the ,1854 matters pending on August 31, 1997.
Of these 2,269 matters, 104 were direct appeals, death penalty appeals, granted habeas corpus writs, and extraordinary writs, 147 were granted discretionary review cases, 747 were petitions for discretionary review, and 1,274 were applications for writs of habeas corpus.
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