Texas Courts of Appeals
"The first intermediate appellate court in Texas was created by the Constitution of 1876, which created a Court of Appeals with appellate jurisdiction in all criminal cases and in all civil cases originating in the county courts. In 1891, an amendment was added to the Constitution authorizing the Legislature to establish intermediate courts of civil appeals located at various places throughout the State. The purpose of this amendment was to preclude the large quantity of civil litigation from further congest- ing the docket of the Supreme Court, while providing for a more convenient and less expensive system of intermediate appellate courts for civil cases. In 1980, a constitutional amendment extended the appellate jurisdiction of the courts of civil appeals to include criminal cases and changed the name of the courts to the “courts of appeals.”"
The state of Texas is divided into fourteen regions and each Court has jurisdiction over cases in its geographic area.
- Texas First District Court of Appeals - Houston
- Texas Second District Court of Appeals - Fort Worth
- Texas Third District Court of Appeals - Austin
- Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals - San Antonio
- Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals - Dallas
- Texas Sixth District Court of Appeals - Texarkana
- Texas Seventh District Court of Appeals - Amarillo
- Texas Eighth District Court of Appeals - El Paso
- Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals - Beaumont
- Texas Tenth District Court of Appeals - Waco
- Texas Eleventh District Court of Appeals - Eastland
- Texas Twelfth District Court of Appeals - Tyler
- Texas Thirteenth District Court of Appeals - Corpus Christi & Edinburg
- Texas Fourteenth District Court of Appeals - Houston
The number of judges serving on each Court is defined by statute and varies from three to thirteen. At a minimum, "each Court is presided over by a chief justice and has at least two other justices." There are currently eighty judges authorized by statute for the fourteen Courts of Appeals. Most cases are only heard by three justices, only requiring the full slate of justices in extreme circumstances.
Judges serve six-year terms and are elected through partisan elections. Vacancies between elections are filled by the governor, with the confirmation by the Senate. The qualifications to be an appellate judge are:
- Citizen of the United States and of Texas
- Between the ages of 35 and 74
- A practicing lawyer, or lawyer and judge of court of record together, for at least ten years
Salaries of elected state judges in Texas are set by the state legislature. Current salary levels were established by the legislature in 2005. The current base salary for an appeals court judge is $137,500. Chief justices make an additional $2,500. Further, appeals court justices have the potential to earn up to an additional $7,500 annually that can be paid by the counties in which they preside for extra judicial services performed.
Currently the annual base salary for a district court judge in Texas is $125,000. Appeals court judge salaries are set at 110% of the district court judge salary, which comes to $137,500.