Chapter 9: The Judiciary

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Supreme Court
Civil court is composed of 8 justices and 1 chief justice, all elected in statewide contests.
This court with limited original jurisdiction establishes rules for statewide civil procedure.
This court is the final court of appeals for all civil cases.
The majority of cases heard are from a petition for review.
Court of Criminal Appeals
The highest appellate court for criminal matters in state of Texas.
The 9 members of this criminal court are elected for 6-year terms.
This criminal court is composed of 8 judges and a presiding judge.
Court of Appeals
Texas has 14 of these courts that have appellate jurisdiction.
County Court
Each of the 254 counties in Texas has at least one of this type of court.
Each of these courts is presided over by a county judge.
Justice of the Peace
Duties of this individual include acting as coroner in counties with no medical examiner.
This individual often also performs the duties of a notary public and a coroner.
It is common for this individual to serve as a notary public.
They are regulated by county commissioners.
Municipal Court
A member of this court is usually appointed by a city council to a 2-year term of office.
This court handles violations of city ordinances.
Many of these court judges do not have a law degree.
Original jurisdiction
Power to hear a case for the first time.
Appellate jurisdiction
The right to hear a case upon appeal.
Jurisdiction
A court's authority to hear a case
Grand jury
Has the responsibility to decide whether to formally charge suspects
Trial jury
Has the responsibility of finding the accused person guilty or not guilty
Texas District Court
The type of court where a civil case seeking unlimited damages, which originated in Texas with Texas Plaintiffs and a Texas Defendant, be filed.
Are often described as the chief trial courts of the state.
Civil suits
Examples of this kind of case are a personal injury suit, a divorce case, a child custody dispute, a breach-of-contract case, a challenge to utility rates, and a dispute over water rights.
Burden of proof
One of the most important differences between civil and criminal court cases .
Civil cases
Uses the "preponderance of the evidence" standard
Criminal case
In this case, the prosecution must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Double jeopardy
The process in which there is a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal in the first trial.
De novo trial
A new trial conducted in a higher court, as opposed to an appeal.
Plea bargain
An attempt to obtain a lighter sentence in exchange for the accused claiming guilty.
Petit jury
A jury for a criminal or civil trial
The information
An alternative to a grand jury indictment.
A written accusation made by the prosecutor against a party charged with a minor crime.
True bill
An indictment returned by a grand jury.
Challenge for cause
A request to a judge that a certain prospective juror not be allowed to serve on the jury for a specific reason, such as bias or knowledge of the case.
Hung jury
Result if one juror disagrees with the other juror's verdict in a criminal case.