Lisa Stuart Risner
September 8, 2008
Court Structure of Texas
The Court structure of Texas, including both Criminal and Civil, starts at the Municipal and Justice levels. Justice Courts are established in precincts within each county. There are 254 counties in Texas, and 821 Justice Courts with 821 Judges. The jurisdiction of the Justice Courts are Civil actions of not more that $10,000, all small claims, Criminal prosecution of misdemeanors punishable by fine only (no confinement), and other Magistrate functions. Municipal Courts are established in cities. At present, there are 918 cities with 1,416 Judges. Municipal Court jurisdiction is Criminal misdemeanors punishable by fine only (no confinement), exclusive original jurisdiction over municipal ordinance criminal cases, limited civil jurisdiction in cases involving dangerous dogs, and other Magistrate functions. Justice and Municipal courts are known as local trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
The next level of courts in Texas is the County Courts. There are 494 Courts with 494 Judges. These figures break down as follows: Constitutional County Courts are established one in each county, for a total of 254; County Courts at Law are established in 84 counties for a total of 222; Statutory Probate Courts are established in 10 counties for a total of 18. These County Courts are known as county trial courts of limited jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the Constitutional County Court is that they have original jurisdiction in civil actions between $200 and $10,000; Probate, of which contested matters may be transferred to District Court; exclusive original jurisdiction over misdemeanors with fines greater than $500 or a jail sentence; all juvenile matters; and, appeals de novo from lower courts or on the record from municipal courts of record. The County Courts at Law hand all civil, criminal,...