County Court HighlightsAnalysis of Activity for the Year Ended August 31, 1998


This section contains the court activity of the 254 constitutional county courts, the 181 statutory county courts-at-law, and the 16 statutory probate courts. Seven additional statutory county courts-at-law have been authorized by the Legislature to be made operational at a later date.

Cases Added

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. Figure 1 below shows the breakdown of total cases added to the dockets of the county courts.

Figure 1: Total cases added Civil Docket

Of the civil cases filed in or appealed to the county-level courts during the year ended August 31, 1998, 32 percent were classified as suits on debt, 19 percent concerned personal injury/damage suits, seven percent were divorce suits, five percent concerned other family matters, 36 percent were other civil cases, and the remaining cases were tax suits.

Criminal Docket

Considering only criminal cases, 22 percent of the cases filed in or appealed to the county-level courts were for theft or worthless check, 16 percent were for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs (DWI/DUID), 10 percent were for simple assault, 9 percent for violations of drug laws, 14 percent for traffic offenses (43 percent of which were cases appealed from justice of the peace or municipal courts), and 29 percent were for other criminal offenses.

Only seven percent of the total criminal cases added to the county-level court dockets came by way of appeal from justice of the peace or municipal courts rather than being originally filed in at the county-level courts or added in another manner.


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). No statistics on the disposition of probate or mental health cases are recorded. The disposition rate was highest for juvenile cases, with 66 percent. Forty-eight percent of the criminal cases and 38 percent of the civil cases on the docket were disposed. Of the criminal cases on the docket, the county-level courts disposed of 58 percent of the drug charges, 49 percent of the DWI/DUID charges, 33 percent of theft charges, 56 percent of assault charges, 55 percent of traffic cases, and 56 percent of other criminal cases.

Of the 59,990 motions to revoke probation in criminal cases filed during the year, 29,986 were granted and 14,541 were continued on probation or deferred adjudication. Disposed motions to revoke accounted for eight percent of the total dispositions in criminal cases.

Deferred adjudication accounted for 12 percent of the total dispositions. Of the case categories where the defendant was placed on deferred adjudication, drug offense cases was the highest with 22 percent and DWI/DUID was the lowest with 1 percent.

Figure 4: cases added, disposed and pendingExcluding probate and mental health, the county-level courts disposed of 650,297 cases, while 682,693 cases were added to their dockets.

Of the criminal cases dispositions, 46 percent of the dispositions followed a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.

Twenty-six percent of all criminal dispositions were by dismissal. Within each case category, dismissals accounted for 12 percent of the DWI/DUID cases, 42 percent of the theft cases, 17 percent of the drug cases, 31 percent of the assault cases, 28 percent of the traffic cases, and 24 of the other criminal case dispositions.

With regard to civil cases, 19 percent of dispositions involved a trial. Of the civil cases tried, 1,055 were before a jury and 18,298 were before a judge alone. Default or agreed judgments accounted for 29 percent of civil dispositions, and 34 percent of all civil cases were dismissed. Of the 1,983 show cause motions filed in family law cases in the county-level courts, 99 percent were disposed.

Total Pending Caseloads Increase

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. This does not include probate or mental health cases. See Figure 4 below for the ten-year trend.

Cases remaining on the dockets on August 31, 1998, represented a 1 percent decrease in pending civil cases and a 5 percent increase in pending criminal cases during the fiscal year.

Return to 1998 Annual Report