Tribpedia: Texas Courts

Lawmakers, Courts Consider Ways to Help People Who Can't Afford Lawyers

Almost four percent of more than 300,000 civil cases filed in Texas courts in 2015 involved plaintiffs or petitioners who didn't have an attorney, according to the Texas Office of Court Administration.
Almost four percent of more than 300,000 civil cases filed in Texas courts in 2015 involved plaintiffs or petitioners who didn't have an attorney, according to the Texas Office of Court Administration.

Every year, thousands of Texans who can't afford to hire attorneys take a go at handling their own civil cases. Ahead of the next legislative session, lawmakers and legal service providers are looking for ways to make the legal process easier for those who represent themselves.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the investiture ceremony at the Texas House on November 11, 2013.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the investiture ceremony at the Texas House on November 11, 2013.

Justice Antonin Scalia Found Dead in West Texas

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U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday morning at the Cibolo Creek Ranch resort near Marfa, a Presidio County official confirmed. 

Left to right, top to bottom: Paul Green, Rick Green, Eva Guzman, Debra Lehrmann, Michael Massengale, and Joe Pool.
Left to right, top to bottom: Paul Green, Rick Green, Eva Guzman, Debra Lehrmann, Michael Massengale, and Joe Pool.

Three Supreme Court Justices Face Challenges

In all three state Supreme Court seats up for election this year, Republican incumbents face primary challengers on March 1 – but that's where the similarities end. 

Democrat Lawrence "Larry" Meyers (top left) will face the winner of the Republican primary for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2. The GOP candidates are Mary Lou Keel (top right), Chris Oldner (bottom left) and Ray Wheless (bottom right).
Democrat Lawrence "Larry" Meyers (top left) will face the winner of the Republican primary for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2. The GOP candidates are Mary Lou Keel (top right), Chris Oldner (bottom left) and Ray Wheless (bottom right).

Court of Criminal Appeals Candidates Emphasize Experience

Although the Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest criminal court in the state — and it deals with a number of hot-button issues including the death penalty — its nine judges don’t attract much attention. That can make campaigning for a seat on the court difficult.

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht
Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht

Commission Will Address Texas "Justice Gap"

A large number of Texans — mostly middle class — fall into a "justice gap" where they aren't poor enough to receive free legal aid provided to indigents but can't afford basic legal services on their own. 

Former Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court Wallace Jefferson speaks with a group of people after oral arguments before the Texas Supreme Court. Jefferson argued on behalf of six plaintiffs who were charged with court fees during divorce proceedings even though all six had filed "pauper petitions."
Former Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court Wallace Jefferson speaks with a group of people after oral arguments before the Texas Supreme Court. Jefferson argued on behalf of six plaintiffs who were charged with court fees during divorce proceedings even though all six had filed "pauper petitions."

Tarrant County Defends Right to Charge Poor Petitioners

The Texas Supreme Court scrutinized the legality of court costs imposed on indigent plaintiffs — in this case, fees the Tarrant County clerk’s office charged six poor plaintiffs pursuing divorces — during oral arguments on Wednesday.

 

Texas Supreme Court justices listen to the State of the Judiciary speech on February 23, 2011.
Texas Supreme Court justices listen to the State of the Judiciary speech on February 23, 2011.

Indigent Court Fee Case Goes Before Supreme Court

When and how local clerks can make poor plaintiffs pay court fees to get divorced will be argued before the Texas Supreme Court Wednesday, with both sides hoping the justices provide clarity on the contentious issue.  

Schools, Courts Worry About New Truancy Law

Juvenile justice advocates applauded when the Texas Legislature decided this year that repeated school truancy will no longer be a crime. But school and court officials worry they are losing tools that have actually worked at keeping kids in school.

A general view of the Twin Peaks restaurant where nine members of motorcycle gangs were shot and killed in Waco, taken May 19, 2015.
A general view of the Twin Peaks restaurant where nine members of motorcycle gangs were shot and killed in Waco, taken May 19, 2015.

Questions Grow About Handling of Waco Biker Cases

More than three weeks after Waco police arrested 177 bikers following a deadly shootout, none have been charged in the killings, nearly half remain in jail and legal experts — including some former prosecutors — wonder what McLennan County is doing.

 

Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, plaintiffs in the Texas same-sex marriage lawsuit, pose before a a town hall discussion about the upcoming hearing before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, plaintiffs in the Texas same-sex marriage lawsuit, pose before a a town hall discussion about the upcoming hearing before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gay Marriage Ban on Precarious Legal Ground

Almost a decade after voters overwhelmingly added it to the Texas Constitution, the clock may be running out on the state's gay marriage ban.