Revised 2020 Texas Courts & Civil Criminal Justice (1).docx...

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TEXAS COURTS, CIVIL &CRIMINAL JUSTICEJ-Ramsey SutterTexas courts have the responsibility of interpreting and applying state andsometimes federal, law. With more than 3,300 justices and judges, and almost that many courts, Texas has one of the largest judicial systems inthe country. Texas courts deal with cases involving:Civil law: The body of law concerning noncriminal matters, such as business contracts and personal injury.Criminal law: The body of law concerning felony and misdemeanor offenses by individuals against other persons and property, or in violation of laws or ordinances.Misdemeanor: Classified as A, B, or C, a misdemeanor may be punished by fine and/or county jail sentence. (All prisoners in city jail must be transferred to county jail within 48 hours of arrest.)Felony: A serious crime punished by a fine and prison confinement.A court’s authority to hear a particular case is its jurisdiction.Sources of LawThese sources include the provisions of the Texas Constitution, statutes enacted by the legislature, regulations adopted by state agencies, and judge-made common law based on custom and tradition dating back to medieval England.Code RevisionIn 1963, the Texas Legislative Council was charged with systemizing the array of Texas laws into an organized code. The legal code is found in Vernon’s Texas Codes Annotated. More than 50 years later, the Council continues to work on this project and piecemeal changes resulting from routine legislation or entire changes made to the legal code often require revision.Courts, Judges, Lawyers, and JuriesThe Texas judicial system is a complex structure, ranging from local courts to the state supreme courts. All courts have jurisdiction established by law.Original jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear a case first.Appellate jurisdiction is the authority of one court to review thedecision of a lower court.Structure of the State Trial and Appellate Courtssee-2015.pdf
Trial and Appellate CourtsArticle V of the Texas Constitution sets up the Judicial Department. A court that has exclusive jurisdiction is the only court with the authority to decide a particular type of case. Concurrent jurisdiction means that more than one court has authority to try a specific dispute. In that instance, a plaintiff selects the court in which to file the case.Local Trial Courts.The Texas judicial system is complex. Some courts have original jurisdiction, some courts have appellate jurisdiction, and some courts have both original and appellate jurisdiction. Minor trial courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and include municipal courts and justice of the peace courts. These judges alsoserve as magistrates of the state, issuing warrants and conducting hearings. Almost all other judges are also designated magistrates.

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