There are three types of Texas County Courts: Constitutional County Courts, County Courts at Law and Statutory Probate Courts. The Constitutional County Courts were established by the Texas State Constitution. Each of the 254 counties in the state has a County Court. However, not all of them exercise judicial functions. In highly populated counties the judge may choose instead to focus his or her time on the administration of county government.
County Courts have original jurisdiction over all Class A and Class B misdemeanors. These courts are limited jurisdiction courts and handle cases like real property issues of up to $200,000, tort cases, probate/estate matters, mental health issues, criminal appeals, juvenile cases, and traffic violations. These courts also hear appeals from Justice Courts and Municipal Courts but only in areas that do not have a County Court at Law.
County Courts at Law were created to absorb the overflow of cases in counties with high populations and a significant workload. The jurisdiction of these courts varies by county. These courts have original jurisdiction over appeals from Justice Courts and Municipal Courts.
Statutory Probate Courts of Texas exist in highly populated counties, and they have exclusive jurisdiction over probate matters. Ten of the 15 largest metropolitan areas have them. They have both original and exclusive jurisdiction over probate matter in their county. They handle cases on guardianships, conservatorships, estates, wills, trusts, and mental health cases. These courts do hold jury trials when necessary.
Many cases in County Courts will be self-represented, and the Texas Judicial Branch website can help patrons find their way. They offer forms for filing cases, rules of the court, other publications to help teach and inform about the court process and e-filing for many types of cases.
On average Statutory Probate Courts hear about 600,000 cases per year. Constitutional County Courts hear about 92,000 cases every year.