Tribpedia: Texas Judicial System

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 ...

State District Judge Mary Lou Keel (l) and state District Judge Ray Wheless
State District Judge Mary Lou Keel (l) and state District Judge Ray Wheless

Two Contentious GOP Runoffs for Top Criminal Court

One candidate shares a name with a much more famous Republican. Another is accused of being a Democrat in disguise. A third has repeatedly pledged to take a criminal law certification test, which he’s already failed at least once.

Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals justices listen to Chief Justice Nathan Hecht's State of the Judiciary speech to legislators on Feb. 18, 2015.
Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals justices listen to Chief Justice Nathan Hecht's State of the Judiciary speech to legislators on Feb. 18, 2015.

Analysis: Should Judges Exit Fundraising Business?

The U.S. Supreme Court says it's okay for states to bar judges from raising their own campaign cash. A lot of judges (and lawyers, too) think that's a pretty good idea that Texas might want to consider.

Dawn Carlton is pushing for a series of bills this legislative session to change the way court-appointed guardians are used in Texas.
Dawn Carlton is pushing for a series of bills this legislative session to change the way court-appointed guardians are used in Texas.

Guardianship Reform Could Offer New Freedoms

Dawn Carlton is intellectually disabled, but she says she manages fine on her own. The 38-year-old woman is pushing for a series of bills this legislative session to change the way court-appointed guardians are used in Texas.

GOP nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general Dan Patrick (l.) and Ken Paxton.
GOP nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general Dan Patrick (l.) and Ken Paxton.

GOP Lawmakers Make Case for Upholding Gay Marriage Ban

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UPDATED: Removing Texas' same-sex marriage ban could clear the way for bigamy and pedophilia, according to a brief signed by 63 Republican lawmakers including the GOP candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Hank Skinner was sentenced to death for the 1993 triple slaying of his girlfriend and her two sons.
Hank Skinner was sentenced to death for the 1993 triple slaying of his girlfriend and her two sons.

Ruling Goes Against Death Row Inmate Skinner

A district court judge ruled against death row inmate Hank Skinner on Tuesday in the wake of new DNA testing, saying it was “reasonably probable” he would still have been convicted had the evidence been available at trial.

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.

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.