Tribpedia: Texas Judicial System

Tribpedia

The Texas judicial system features five layers of courts and a bifurcated appellate system that separates criminal and civil appeals at its highest level. Article 5 of the Texas Constitution governs its structure.

The lowest court is the Justice of the Peace Court, or JP court, which handles criminal misdemeanors "punishable by fine only" and civil matters where the "amount ...

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From left to right: David Lyle, senior counsel for state advancement, American Constitution Society, and Bert Brandenburg, executive director, Justice at Stake.
From left to right: David Lyle, senior counsel for state advancement, American Constitution Society, and Bert Brandenburg, executive director, Justice at Stake.

Brandenburg and Lyle: The TT Interview

Two experts in campaign finance and its effects on how judges decide cases say the money has a measurable effect and that some changes in law can help.

Texas Gets a D+ in Public Integrity Study

Texas has scored a 68 out of 100, placing 27th in a national state integrity study. The state got high marks for auditing and for monitoring pension funds, but not as high for accountability of the governor and legislators.

Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife.
Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife.

Morton Lawyers: Former DAs' Claims "Wholly Deficient"

Michael Morton's legal team responded today to claims from the exonerated man's original prosecutors that they cannot be forced to testify as part of an inquiry into how Morton was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife.

Texas Forensic Science Commission Chairman John Bradley listens to other board members during a scheduled meeting on September 17, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.
Texas Forensic Science Commission Chairman John Bradley listens to other board members during a scheduled meeting on September 17, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.

Despite Questions of Bias, John Bradley Will Stay on Innocence Appeal

A state judge has declined to remove District Attorney John Bradley from continuing to investigate the case of Michael Morton, whose 1987 murder conviction has been called into question by new DNA evidence suggesting someone else killed his wife. 

State Rep. Brandon Creighton (r), R-Conroe, talks to State Rep. Dan Branch before laying out HB274 on May 9, 2011.
State Rep. Brandon Creighton (r), R-Conroe, talks to State Rep. Dan Branch before laying out HB274 on May 9, 2011.

Senate Approves Loser-Pays Bill

The Senate unanimously passed a major tort reform bill today that would allow courts to grant attorneys' fees to prevailing parties under certain circumstances.

State Rep. Craig Eiland (r), D-Galveston, speaks against HB274 the lawsuit reform bill as Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, listens on May 9, 2011.
State Rep. Craig Eiland (r), D-Galveston, speaks against HB274 the lawsuit reform bill as Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, listens on May 9, 2011.

Loser-Pays Bill Clears Texas House

Texas got one step closer today to becoming one of the few states with a rule that awards legal fees to prevailing parties in lawsuits. 

Texas State Representative Brandon Creighton, who chairs the House Select Committee on State Sovereignty, during a press conference on the Tenth Amendment.
Texas State Representative Brandon Creighton, who chairs the House Select Committee on State Sovereignty, during a press conference on the Tenth Amendment.

"Loser Pays" a Winner in the Texas Legislature?

Advocates say requiring the losing parties in litigation to pay their opponents’ legal fees is the cure for courts choked with the costs of “junk” lawsuits.