The Texas Courts of Appeals are part of the Texas judicial system. In Texas, all cases appealed from district and county courts, criminal and civil, go to one of the fourteen Texas Courts of Appeals, with one exception: death penalty cases. The latter are taken directly to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest Texas court for criminal matters. The court of last resort for civil cases is the Texas Supreme Court. The number of justices on each intermediate court of appeals is set by statute.

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  • The Texas Courts of Appeals are part of the Texas judicial system. In Texas, all cases appealed from district and county courts, criminal and civil, go to one of the fourteen Texas Courts of Appeals, with one exception: death penalty cases. The latter are taken directly to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest Texas court for criminal matters. The court of last resort for civil cases is the Texas Supreme Court. The number of justices on each intermediate court of appeals is set by statute. The total number of appellate court seats currently stands at 80, ranging from three to thirteen per court. To equalize case loads, the Texas Supreme Court regularly transfers batches of cases from one court to another. The transferee court must then apply the case law of the court from which the case was sent, rather than its own, unless there is no controlling precedent from the sending court. Appellate courts consisting of more than three justices hear and decide cases in panels of three. Occasionally, the entire court sits en banc to reconsider a prior panel decision and to assure consistency in the court's jurisprudence. The en banc process is also used to overrule prior precedent of the same court that its panels are bound by. The precedents established by a court of appeals are binding on the lower courts in its district. The First and Fourteenth Court of Appeals, sitting in Houston, have overlapping appellate districts, and occasionally hand down conflicting ruling on the same legal issue. Such conflicts may ultimately be resolved by the Texas Supreme Court (in civil cases) or Court of Criminal Appeals (in criminal cases), whose decisions on questions of law are binding on all state courts. The federal courts sitting in Texas apply state law when the case is not controlled by federal law or by the law of another jurisdiction based contractual choice of law or other basis for application of a different jurisdiction's law. Not infrequently the federal district courts sitting in Texas and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals make guesses as to how the Texas Supreme Court would rule on an issue of state law that is still unsettled due to a conflict among the intermediate courts of appeals. Such an issue may also be referred to the Texas Supreme Court by certified question, but this procedure is rarely employed. Like the Justices of the Texas Supreme Court and the Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Justices of the intermediate Texas Courts of Appeals are elected in partisan elections to six-year terms. Many, however, are initially appointed by the Texas Governor to fill vacancies and then run as incumbents in the next election. In the November 2018 general election, many Republican incumbents lost to Democrats, which entailed a switch from Republican control to majority control by Democrats in the Houston, Dallas and Austin courts of appeals. Because not all members were up for reelection in 2018, however, these previously all-Republican courts now have a mixed partisan makeup. Unlike the now more diverse intermediate courts of appeals, the Texas Supreme Court remains under solid Republican control with no minority party representation at all, and is also less diverse demographically than the appellate judiciary as a whole. (en)
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  • The Texas Courts of Appeals are part of the Texas judicial system. In Texas, all cases appealed from district and county courts, criminal and civil, go to one of the fourteen Texas Courts of Appeals, with one exception: death penalty cases. The latter are taken directly to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest Texas court for criminal matters. The court of last resort for civil cases is the Texas Supreme Court. The number of justices on each intermediate court of appeals is set by statute. (en)
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  • Texas Courts of Appeals (en)
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