The Texas Judiciary

The Texas Judiciary - 1 Texas Judiciary Introduction...

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Unformatted text preview: 1 Texas Judiciary Introduction Judiciary Refers to both courts and Judges Interprets and applies all statutory laws Settles disputes between individuals and institutions Sentences criminals to punishment Awards damages in civil cases Judges Connection between politics and justice results because most judges are elected on a partisan ballot (TX one of 9 states). Judges often take large campaign donations from lawyers and render impartial verdicts Judicial Fairness Act 1995 Limited individual contributions to $5,000 to judicial candidates and $30,000 for Supreme Court candidates; $300,000 for PACs Texas is one of nine states that chooses its judges in partisan elections. All judges except municipal judges are selected by partisan election with trial court judges serving four-year terms and appellate judges serving six-year terms. Vacancies created by death, retirement, or resignation. Unexpired terms filled by appointment Job security means judges can exercise substantial independence 2,570 Courts / 3,024 Judges 2 State Law in Texas Civil Law Suits concerning business contracts, divorces and other family issues, personal injury, and other noncriminal matters. Criminal Law Proceedings in which someone is accused of breaking the law. Jurisdiction Courts authority to hear a case Original Jurisdiction Court limited to trying being heard for the first time. Appellate jurisdiction Court that hears appeals for lower courts Some courts exercise both hear both original and appellate jurisdiction. State Law in Texas Criminal Law Texas uses a system of graded penalties for noncapital offenses and a two-step procedure for determining guilt and assessing punishment Graded Penalties 5 degrees of felonies (capital, first, second, third and state jail) 3 classes of misdemeanors (A, B, and C) Texas utilizes a repeat-offender law that allows a three-time felony offender to be sentenced up to life in prison Capital Punishment Murderer who commits a felony may be sentenced to death by lethal injection. TX leads the nation in the number of executions. Graded Penalties 3 Municipal Courts Authorized by state constitution to handle minor criminal cases Judges are either elected or appointed, depending on city charter Referred to as traffic courts. Judges have limited jurisdiction Fines of Concurrent Jurisdiction with JP Courts up to $500 (class C Misdemeanor) Fines of Exclusive Jurisdiction for violation of city ordinances up to $2,000 Class C misdemeanors such as public intoxication and simple assault No possibility of imprisonment No records required to be kept Judges salaries vary 2005: over 8 million new cases filed in Texas municipal courts (83 percent involved traffic violations) Justice of the Peace (JP) Courts Justices of the peace are elected for four-year terms by...
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This note was uploaded on 01/06/2012 for the course GOVT 2302 taught by Professor Mackharvey during the Fall '11 term at Collins.

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The Texas Judiciary - 1 Texas Judiciary Introduction...

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