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Govt 2306 ch_10


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Texas Government (GOVT 2306) -- The Judiciary

Texas Government (GOVT 2306) -- The Judiciary

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  • 1. The Judiciary GOVT 2306 Chapter 10
  • 2. State Law in Texas  Texas courts have the responsibility of interpreting and applying state, and sometimes federal, law.  With more than 3,000 justices and judges, and almost that many courts, Texas has one of the largest judicial systems in the country.  It is the role of the state’s judges to interpret and apply state constitutional provisions, statutory laws, and agency regulations  These interpretations attract less public attention than their legislative and executive counterparts  However, their decisions affect Texans every day
  • 3. State Law in Texas  Preliminary Terms  Civil Law – body of law concerning noncriminal matters, such as business contracts and personal injury  Criminal Law – body of law concerning felony and misdemeanor offenses by individuals against other persons or property  Felony – a serious crime punished by fine and prison confinement  Misdemeanor – Classified as A, B, or C, a misdemeanor may be punished by fine and/or jail sentence  Jurisdiction – a court’s authority to hear a particular case
  • 4. State Law in Texas  FeloniesFelony Penalty Capital Death or life in prison without parole 1st Degree 5 to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000 2nd Degree 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000 3rd Degree 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000 State Jail 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
  • 5. State Law in Texas  FeloniesMisdemeanor Penalty Class A Not more than 1 year in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $4,000 Class B Not more than 180 days in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,000 Class C A fine of not more than $500
  • 6. State Law in Texas  Sources of Law  These sources include  the provisions of the Texas Constitution  Includes federal statutes that are applicable to the state  statutes enacted by the legislature  regulations adopted by state agencies  judge-made common law based on custom and tradition dating back to medieval England.  A court may apply a statute, constitutional provision regulation, and common law all in the same case  Procedures for filing a case, conducting a trial, and appealing a judgment depend on whether the case is civil or criminal
  • 7. State Law in Texas  Code Revision  In 1963, the Texas Legislative Council was charged with systemizing the array of Texas laws into an organized code.  This has been a work in progress for more than 40 years  The legal code is found in Vernon’s Texas Codes Annotated.
  • 8. State Law in Texas  Code in Texas  Texas Constitution  Agricultural Code  Alcoholic Beverage Code  Auxiliary Water Laws  Business/Commerce Code  Business Organization Code  Civil Practice and Remedies Code  Code of Criminal Procedure  Education Code  Election Code  Estates Code  Family Code  Finance Code  Government Code  Health and Safety Code  Human Resources Code  Insurance Code  Labor Code  Local Government Code  Natural Resources Code  Occupations Code  Parks and Wildlife Code  Penal Code  Probate Code  Property Code  Special District Local Laws Code  Tax Code  Transportation Code  Utilities Code  Water Code  Vernon’s Civil Statutes
  • 9. Courts, Judges, Lawyers, and Juries  The Texas judicial system is a very complex structure, ranging from local courts to the state supreme courts.  All courts have jurisdiction established by law.  Original jurisdiction  the authority of a court to hear a case first.  Appellate jurisdiction  the authority of one court to review the decision of a lower court.  Exclusive jurisdiction  Authority of only one court to hear a particular type of case  Concurrent jurisdiction  Authority of more than one court to try a case  Ex. A civil dispute involving more than $500 but less than $5,000 may be heard in either a justice of the peace court, a county court, or a district court
  • 10. Court Structure of Texas
  • 11. Texas Judges and Justices
  • 12. Texas Judges and Justices
  • 13. Courts, Judges, Lawyers, and Juries  Trial and Appellate Courts  Local Trial Courts  Minor trial courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and include municipal courts and justice of the peace courts.  These judges also serve as magistrates of the state, issuing warrants and conducting hearings.  Independent judges who are capable of issuing warrants, reviewing arrests, conducting hearings, etc.  Almost all other judges are also designated magistrates.
  • 14. Courts, Judges, Lawyers, and Juries  Trial and Appellate Courts  Local Trial Courts  Municipal Courts  Municipal court judges are elected, appointed, or ex-officio, depending on their city charter.  Mayors of a general law city have the authority to serve as judges  Usually, municipal court judges of home-ruled cities are named city councils for 2 year terms  Do not have to be licensed attorneys (unless presiding over a municipal court of record)  Courts of record have a court reporter or some means to record testimony and proceedings  Municipal courts are often referred to as traffic courts.  Their judges hear minor criminal cases extending to violations of city ordinances and class C misdemeanors, which occur within the limits of the municipal jurisdiction.
  • 15. Courts, Judges, Lawyers, and Juries  Trial and Appellate Courts  Local Trial Courts  Justice of the Peace Courts  JPs are elected for a four-year term, and no previous legal or judicial training is required.  They hear minor criminal and minor civil cases and often perform marriages, act as a notary public, and act as coroner.  Juries may be used if requested by one of the parties in the case.  Small Claims Courts  Small-claims court occurs when the JP hears some minor civil cases.  Handles damages claims of $10,000 or less  Procedure in small-claims court is less formal than that for the ordinary civil jurisdiction of the justice of the peace court.
  • 16. Courts, Judges, Lawyers, and Juries  Trial and Appellate Courts  Local Trial Courts  Justice of the Peace  Elected by voters residing in a precinct with boundaries created by the county commissioners court  Texas Constitution mandates between 1 to 8 JP precincts according to population  Each precinct can have 1 to 2 JPs  Position requires neither previous legal training or experience  Approx. 10% of Texas’ JPs are lawyers and engage in private practice while serving as a justice of the peace  A JP who is not a lawyer must undergo an 80-hour course in performing the duties of office within the first year  An additional 20 hours of professional instruction are carried out every year
  • 17. Courts, Judges, Lawyers, and Juries  Trial and Appellate Courts  County Trial Courts  Each of Texas’s 254 counties has a county court as prescribed by the state constitution.  More than eighty counties have one or more additional county-level courts created by statute.  All are courts of record.  Judges of constitutional county courts need not be attorneys.  Statutory county court judges must be experienced attorneys.
  • 18. Courts, Judges, Lawyers, and Juries  Trial and Appellate Courts  County Trial Courts  Constitutional County Courts  Each county has a county judge who, in areas of small population, hears cases in county court and serves as presiding officer of the commissioners court.  Most county courts have original, appellate, civil, and criminal jurisdiction.  County courts also serve as probate courts.  Less than 15 percent of constitutional county judges are licensed attorneys.
  • 19. Courts, Judges, Lawyers, and Juries  Trial and Appellate Courts  County Trial Courts  County Courts at Law  In counties with a large population, the legislature has authorized the creation of county courts at law to relieve the county judge from the burden of hearing cases in county court.  Probate Courts  In the ten most heavily populated counties, one or more probate courts determine the validity of wills of deceased persons, determine mental competency, and designate guardians over the persons and/or estates of minor children or incompetent adults.  Counties with Probate Courts  El Paso (2), Denton (1), Collin (1), Tarrant (2), Dallas (3), Travis (1), Bexar (2), Harris (4), and Galveston (1)
  • 20. Check my SlideShare page (rfair07) for more lectures Lectures posted for:  United States History before 1877 / after 1877  Texas History  United States (Federal) Government / Texas Government  Slide 20 of 58  To download a full copy of this PowerPoint presentation, please go to:   If you would like a copy of all the Texas Government lectures posted in PDF format, please check out at: 