The Texas Court System is comprised of a Supreme Court, two Courts of Appeal, District Courts, County Courts, Municipal Courts, and Justice Courts. The state also has less common specialty courts for things like mental health, child services, veterans’ issues, and programs for adults with alcohol and drug addiction.
The Supreme Court of Texas is the highest court in the state and the court of last resort. Texas is split into 11 administrative, judicial districts. The Governor appoints a presiding judge in each district to a four-year term. The Supreme Court has a Chief Justice and eight Justices. They are elected into office in staggered, six-year terms. In the event of a vacancy, the Governor can appoint a temporary justice to serve out the remainder of the term. The Senate must confirm the Governor’s selection before they take the seat. Justices have to be at least 35 years old, citizens of Texas and licensed attorneys for at least ten years before becoming a justice.
The Supreme Court is located in the town of Austin, Texas and is the only entity allowed to license attorneys and appoint members of the Board of Law Examiners (administrators of the Texas bar examination).
Most court records in Texas will be open to the public. However, Rule 12 of the Judicial Administration clearly lists those items that will not be available in public court records. They are as follows:
Federal laws also protect personal or sensitive information from being included in open court documents and records.
Texas makes it easy for patrons of the court to file their cases. They have a section on the Texas Judicial Branch website called “Rules and Forms” where users can download the forms they need and review the rules of the court. Forms are broken down into categories for types of cases. Additionally, Texas has an e-filing option called eFileTexas, which is mandatory to use for all criminal cases, and civil cases can use this system as well. They allow patrons of the court to select from a variety of e-filing vendors. Users must register for an account to begin using the system.
Did you know you could access thousands of Texas court records online quickly and easily? Try Infotracer to perform a Texas court records search any time of day or night. The massive database offers court records from all over the state of Texas, including Harris County, Dallas County, and Tarrant County. According to the Public Information Act Texas Government Code 552 (Public Information Act), the public is granted access to all kinds of criminal court records, civil cases, and family court issues like divorce and bankruptcies.
Anyone can conduct a court records search privately without any reason or special permission. Most records will be available online except those which have been sealed by a court order or law.
Infotracer provides free instant access to Texas court records from Texas district courts, county courts, municipal courts, and Texas justice courts from all 11 judicial districts. The fastest way to search is by using a Texas state court records search by name.
In 2012, the Texas courts received 13,264,593 filings. In 2016, the number of filings decreased by 10.2% and counted 11,916,611 filings and had 11,739,186 outgoing cases
|Court Type||Incoming Caseloads|
Domestic relations caseload of Texas at year end of 2016 has increased by 3.6% compared to the last 5 years, in 2012 the number of incoming cases have been 383,688 but are higher than in 2015.
|Year||Domestic Relations Caseload||Total Statewide Caseload|
The number of criminal cases in Texas courts counts to 2,662,239, with 337,481 felony cases and 2,324,758 misdemeanors accordingly.
|Year||Criminal Caseload||Misdemeanor Caseload||Felony Caseload|
Texas’ District Courts are the general jurisdiction trial courts for the state. There is at least one District Court in each county. In some instances, with low populations, one District Court may serve several counties. These courts can handle felony cases, domestic relations cases, civil matters of $200 or more, land title cases, election content cases, tort cases, probate/estate matters, juvenile cases, and administrative agency appeals. Although most District Courts serve both civil and criminal matters, in some densely populated areas, they may specialize into family courts, juvenile courts, civil courts or criminal courts.
According to the Texas Constitution, each of the 254 counties has the right to have a County Court. However, not all County Courts perform judicial functions. In some cases, the judges focus instead on the administration of the county government. County Courts have original jurisdiction over Class A and Class B misdemeanors. They can also handle appeals from Justice Courts and Municipal courts except where special County Courts at Law have been created. In more heavily populated counties, County Courts are split off into divisions to handle probate matters exclusively. Probate Court exist in 10 of the 15 largest metropolitan areas of the state.
Per the Texas Constitution, each county in the state must create at least one and up to eight Justice Court precincts, depending on the population and needs of the people. Each Justice Court precinct may have one or two Justices of the Peace to preside. These courts have original jurisdiction over Class C misdemeanor cases which include petty crimes. They can also handle minor civil disputes, resolve tort cases and contract disputes, deal with traffic violations, issues search or arrest warrants and may even double as the county coroner in some counties. Justice Courts are the small claims courts for Texas.
Each incorporated city of Texas also has a Municipal Court. Some of the larger cities have multiple Municipal Courts depending on caseload. Municipal Courts are limited jurisdiction courts with original and exclusive authority over city ordinance violations. Within the city limits, however, they have concurrent jurisdiction with Justice Courts over Class C misdemeanors and petty crimes with small fines. These courts can charge penalties of up to $2,000 related to zoning, public health, fire safety, and sanitation issues. Judges in Municipal Courts may also issue arrest and search warrants.