Texas Court Records
How Does the Texas Court of Appeals Work?
The Texas court system is divided into 14 appellate districts, and each appellate district has a Court of Appeals in it. The Texas Courts of Appeals are intermediate appellate courts that have appellate jurisdiction over all criminal and civil matters in Texas, except cases that fall under the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ exclusive jurisdiction, such as cases that involve a death penalty sentence.
Texas Courts of Appeals typically exercise their jurisdiction over the counties located in their districts. The counties under each Court of Appeals are listed as follows:
- 1st Court of Appeals - Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller, and Washington counties
- 2nd Court of Appeals - Archer, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Hood, Jack, Montague, Parker, Tarrant, Wichita, Wise, and Young counties
- 3rd Court of Appeals - Bastrop, Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Coke, Comal, Concho, Fayette, Hays, Irion, Lampasas, Lee, Llano, McCulloch, Milam, Mills, Runnels, San Saba, Schleicher, Sterling, Tom Green, Travis, and Williamson counties
- 4th Court of Appeals - Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Brooks, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, La Salle, Mason, Maverick, McMullen, Medina, Menard, Real, Starr, Sutton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Wilson, Zapata, and Zavala counties
- 5th Court of Appeals - Collin, Dallas, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties
- 6th Court of Appeals - Bowie, Camp, Cass, Delta, Fannin, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Hopkins, Hunt, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Titus, Upshur, and Wood counties
- 7th Court of Appeals - Armstrong, Bailey, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Dickens, Donley, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hale, Hall, Hansford, Hardeman, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lamb, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Lynn, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Terry, Wheeler, Wilbarger, and Yoakum counties
- 8th Court of Appeals - Andrews, Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Terrell, Upton, Ward, and Winkler counties
- 9th Court of Appeals - Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto, and Tyler counties
- 10th Court of Appeals - Bosque, Brazos, Burleson, Coryell, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Johnson, Leon, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Navarro, Robertson, Somervell, and Walker counties
- 11th Court of Appeals - Baylor, Borden, Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Comanche, Dawson, Eastland, Ector, Erath, Fisher, Gaines, Glasscock, Haskell, Howard, Jones, Knox, Martin, Midland, Mitchell, Nolan, Palo Pinto, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Stonewall, Taylor, and Throckmorton counties
- 12th Court of Appeals - Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Gregg, Henderson, Houston, Nacogdoches, Rains, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Upshur, Van Zandt, and Wood counties
- 13th Court of Appeals - Corpus Christi and Edinburg, covering Aransas, Bee, Calhoun, Cameron, De Witt, Goliad, Gonzales, Hidalgo, Jackson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lavaca, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Wharton, and Willacy counties
- 14th Court of Appeals - Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Waller, and Washington counties
Note that some counties fall under the jurisdiction of more than one Texas Court of Appeals.
Each Court of Appeals consists of a chief justice and at least two other additional justices, with some courts having up to 12 additional justices. In Courts where there are more than three justices, cases are usually heard in three-justice panels. However, some cases are heard en banc. Texas Courts of Appeals justices are elected in partisan elections.
An individual is eligible to become a Court of Appeals justice if the individual is licensed to practice Texas state law and has practiced for at least ten years, either as a lawyer or judge in a Texas court of record. Also, the individual must also be between the ages of 35—74 and a citizen of the state. Once elected, a justice can serve successive terms of six years. When there is a vacancy, the position is filled by an appointee selected by the state governor and confirmed by the state’s senate.
Parties that wish to file an appeal in a Texas Court of Appeals must do so not more than 30 days after the judgment in the case is issued by the trial court. Texas Courts of Appeals do not use juries; neither do they admit new evidence or listen to new witnesses and testimonies. Instead, these courts review the trial courts’ records and briefs submitted by the appealing parties before deciding.
In some cases, the appealing parties can also present oral arguments to augment their submitted briefs. After presenting these arguments, and a thorough review of the briefs and other submitted documents, the Court of Appeals issues a judgment on the case. The length of time it takes a Texas Court of Appeals to issue a decision on a case varies by jurisdiction and the type of case being reviewed. However, in cases that involve parent-child relationships, a final disposition on the case is typically issued not more than 180 days after the notice of appeal was filed.
After the judgment is issued, a motion for a rehearing or reconsideration may be filed by an unsatisfied party. These parties can also file a motion for en banc reconsideration in cases where a three-judge panel issued the judgment. These motions should be filed not more than 15 days after the court’s ruling is issued. The Texas Courts of Appeal have the right to deny a motion for rehearing or reconsideration. If this happens, then the unsatisfied party can file a petition for a review of the case with the Supreme Court of Texas. This should be done not more than 45 days after the motion was denied, or not more than 45 days after the court’s judgment was issued in cases where the aggrieved party does not wish to file a motion for rehearing or reconsideration.
It should be noted that the Supreme Court of Texas has discretionary jurisdiction over appeal cases and may choose to either grant or deny a petition for review. If the Supreme Court denies the petition for review, then the Court of Appeals’ decision is considered final. However, if the Supreme Court grants the petition, then its decision after it has completed the review will be considered the final decision on the case.
Interested members of the public can access opinions and decisions issued by the Texas Courts of Appeals online. Alternatively, copies of Texas Courts of Appeals court records can be obtained by contacting the Clerk’s office at the district where the appeal was filed.
Contact details for Texas Courts of Appeals can be gotten below: