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Constitution of the State of Texas (1866)

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ARTICLE IV.--JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT.

SECTION 1. The Judicial power of this State shall be vested in one Supreme Court, in District Courts, in County Courts, and in such Corporation Courts and other inferior Courts or tribunals as the Legislature may from time to time ordain and establish. The Legislature may establish Criminal Courts in the principal cities within the State, with such criminal jurisdiction, co-extensive within the limits of the county wherein such city may be situated, and under such regulations as may be prescribed by law; and the Judge thereof may preside over the Courts of one or more cities, as the Legislature may direct.

SEC. 2. The Supreme Court shall consist of five Justices, any three of whom shall constitute a quorum. They shall be elected by the qualified votes of the State at a general election for State or County officers, and they shall elect from their own number a presiding officer, to be styled the Chief Justice; they shall have arrived at the age of thirty-five years at the time of election; shall hold their offices for the term of ten years, and each of them shall receive an annual salary of at least four thousand five hundred dollars, which shall not be increased or diminished during his term of office.

SEC. 3. The Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction only, which shall be co-extensive with the limits of the State; but in criminal cases, below the grade of felony, and in appeals from interlocutory judgments, with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Legislature shall make. The Supreme Court, and the Judges thereof, shall have power to issue the writ of habeas corpus; and under such regulations as may be prescribed by law, the said Court and the Judges thereof, may issue the writ of mandamus, and such other writs as may be necessary to enforce its own jurisdiction. The Supreme Court shall also have power, upon affidavits, or otherwise as by the Court may be thought proper, to ascertain such matters of fact as may be necessary to the proper exercise of its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court shall sit, for the transaction of business, from the first Monday of October until the last Saturday of June of every year, at the Capital, and at not more than two other places in the State.

SEC. 4. The Supreme Court shall appoint its own clerks, who shall give bond in such manner as is now, or may hereafter be required by law; shall hold their offices for four years; and shall be subject to removal by the said Court, for good cause, entered of record on the minutes of said Court.

SEC. 5. The State shall be divided into convenient Judicial Districts. For each District there shall be elected by the qualified voters thereof, at a general election for State or County officers, a Judge who shall reside in the same; shall hold his office for the term of eight years; shall receive an annual salary of not less than three thousand five hundred dollars, which shall not be increased or diminished during his term of service, and shall hold the Courts at one place in each County in the District, at least twice in each year, in such manner as may be prescribed by law.

SEC. 6. The District Court shall have original jurisdiction of all criminal cases; of all suits in behalf of the State to recover penalties, forfeitures and escheats; or all cases of divorce; of all suits to recover damages for slander or defamation of character; of all suits for the trial of title to land; of all suits for the enforcement of liens; of all suits for the trial of the right of property, levied on by virtue of any writ of execution, sequestration, or attachment, when the properties levied on shall be equal to or exceed in value one hundred dollars; and of all suits, complaints or pleas whatever, without regard to any distinction between law and equity, when the matter in controversy shall be valued at, or amount to, one hundred dollars, exclusive of interest; and the said Courts and the Judges thereof, shall have power to issue writs of injunction, certiorari, and all other writs necessary to enforce their own jurisdiction, and to give them a general superintendence and control over inferior tribunals. The District Courts shall have appellate jurisdiction in cases originating in inferior Courts, which may be final in such cases as the Legislature may prescribe; and original and appellate jurisdiction and general control over the County Court established in each county, for appointing guardians, granting letters testamentary and of administration; for settling the accounts of executors, administrators and guardians, and for the transaction of business appertaining to estates; and original jurisdiction and general control over executors, administrators, guardians and minors, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law.

SEC. 7. There shall be a Clerk of the District Court for each county, who shall be elected by the qualified voters for members of the Legislature, and who shall hold his office for four years, subject to removal by information or by indictment of a grand jury, and conviction by a petit jury. In case of vacancy, the Judge of the District Court shall have the power to appoint a Clerk, until a regular election can be held.

SEC. 8. In the trial of all causes in equity in the District Courts, the plaintiff or defendant shall, upon application made in open Court, have the right of trial by jury, to be governed by the rules and regulations prescribed in trials at law.

SEC. 9. All Judges of the Supreme and District Courts shall, by virtue of their offices, be conservators of the peace throughout the State. The style of all writs and process shall be "The State of Texas." All prosecutions shall be carried on in the name and by the authority of the "State of Texas," and conclude "against the peace and dignity of the State."

SEC. 10. In the case of a vacancy in the offices of Justice of the Supreme Court, Judges of the District Court, Attorney-General, and District Attorneys, the Governor of the State shall have power to fill the same by appointment, which shall continue in force until the office can be filled at the next general election for State or county officers, and the successor duly qualified.

SEC. 11. The Judges of the Supreme and District Courts shall be removed by the Governor, on the address of two-thirds of each House of the Legislature, for wilful neglect of duty, or other reasonable cause, which shall not be sufficient ground for impeachment; Provided however, That the cause, or causes, for which such removal shall be required, shall be stated, at length, in such address, and entered on the journals of each House; And provided further, That the cause or causes shall be notified to the Judge so intended to be removed; and he shall be admitted to a hearing in his own defence, before any vote for such address shall pass. And in all such cases, the vote shall be taken by yeas and nays, and entered on the journals of each House respectively.

SEC. 12. No Judge shall sit in any chase wherein he may be interested, or where either of the parties may be connected with him by affinity or consanguinity, within such degrees as may be prescribed by law, or where he shall have been in counsel in the case. When the Supreme Court, or any three of its members, shall be thus disqualified to hear and determine any case or cases, in said Court, or when no judgment can be rendered in any case or cases in said Court, by reason of the equal division of opinion of said Judges, the same shall be certified to the Governor of the State, who shall immediately commission the requisite number of persons, learned in the law, for the trial and determination of said case or cases. When a Judge of the District Court is thus disqualified, the parties may, by consent, appoint a proper person to tray the said case: or upon their failing to do so, a competent person shall be appointed to try the same in the county where it is pending, in such manner as may be prescribed by law. And the District Judges may exchange districts, or hold Courts for each other, when they may deem it expedient, and shall do so when directed by law. The disqualification of Judges of inferior tribunals shall be remedied, and vacancies in their offices shall be filled as prescribed by law.

SEC. 13. An Attorney General shall be elected by the people, who shall reside at the Capital of the State during his continuance in office, whose duties shall be prescribed by law, who shall hold his office for four years, and who, in addition to perquisites, shall receive an annual salary of three thousand dollars, which shall not be increased or diminished during his term of office.

SEC. 14. There shall be a District Attorney for each Judicial District in the State, elected by the qualified electors of the District, who shall reside in the District for which he shall be elected; shall hold his office for four years; and, together with the perquisites prescribed by law, shall receive an annual salary of one thousand dollars, which shall not be increased or diminished during his term of office.

SEC. 15. There shall be established in each county in the State, an inferior tribunal, styled the County Court; and there shall be elected by the persons in each county, who are qualified to vote for members of the Legislature, a Judge of the County Court, who shall be a conservator of the peace, who shall hold his office for four years, and who shall receive such compensation as may be prescribed by law, and who may be removed from office for neglect of duty, incompetency or malfeasance, in such manner as may be prescribed by law.

SEC. 16. The County Court shall have jurisdiction of all misdemeanors and petty offences, as the same are now, or may hereafter be defined by law; of such civil cases, where the matter in controversy shall not exceed five hundred dollars, exclusive of interest, under such regulations, limitations and restrictions as may be prescribed by law, without regard to any distinction between law and equity; to probate wills, to appoint guardians of minors, idiots, lunatics and persons non compos mentis; to grant letters testamentary and of administration; to settle the accounts of executors, administrators and guardians; to transact all business appertaining to the estates of deceased persons, minors, idiots, lunatics, and persons non compos mentis, including the settlement, partition and distribution of such estates; and to apprentice minors under such regulations as may be prescribed by law. One term of the County Court shall be held in each county at last once in every two months; and the Legislature may provide for the appointment of a County Attorney to represent the State and county in said court, whose term of office, duties and compensation shall be such as may be prescribed by law.

SEC. 17. There shall be elected in each county in the State, by the persons qualified to vote for members of the Legislature, four County Commissioners, whose term of office shall be four years, who, with the Judge of the County Court, shall constitute, and be styled, the Police Court for the County; whose powers, duties and mode of action, in regulating, promoting and protecting the public interest relating to the county, shall be the same as that now prescribed by law, for the Commissioners Court of Roads and Revenue, until otherwise provided for and regulated by the Legislature.

SEC. 18. There shall be elected for each county, by the qualified voters, a County Clerk, who shall hold his office for four years, who shall be the Clerk of the County and Police Courts, whose duties and perquisites, and fees of office shall be prescribed by the Legislature, and a vacancy in whose office shall be filled by the Judge of the County Court, until the next general election for County or State officers, who may be removed from office for such cause, and in such manner, as may be prescribed by law.

SEC. 19. There shall be elected a convenient number of Justices of the Peace, who shall have such civil and criminal jurisdiction as shall be provided by law, where the matter in controversy, shall not exceed, in value, one hundred dollars, exclusive of interest; also, one Sheriff, one Coroner, and a sufficient number of Constables, who shall hold their offices for four years, to be elected by the qualified votes of the district, or county, as the Legislature my direct. Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs and Coroners, shall be commissioned by the Governor. The Sheriff shall not be eligible more than eight years in every twelve.

SEC. 20. In all cases of law or equity, where the matter in controversy shall be valued at, or exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.