Trial courts - In the United States, the trial court initially hears a dispute between litigants. The trier of fact, either the judge or jury, determines which facts presented are true and which are not. The law is then applied to those facts. After the trial court's decision, the issues of fact cannot be appealed absent irregularity of procedure or bias in the fact-finding process – only issues of law can be submitted to the appellate courts.
Intermediate appellate courts - After a ruling by a trial court, an intermediate appellate court will hear any issues of law appealed by one of the parties. Issues of law relate to the way the trial judge applied the law to the facts of the dispute during the trial. The facts themselves are not at issue. Once a ruling has been made, the judge writes an opinion of the decision, which becomes a “case” in the American body of law. The opinion of an appellate court is binding on all lower courts in that jurisdiction.
There are 14 appellate districts in Texas. The Texas Courts of Appeal hear both civil and criminal cases.
Courts of last resort - If the losing party still believes that its position is the legally correct one, it may appeal to the highest court in the jurisdiction. Again, the opinion of a court at this level is binding on all courts below it - appellate and trial.
Order of publication in print -
To find cases from Texas state courts by subject, use a digest of Texas case law:
For more information on finding cases and how to use a digest, follow the links below to details in our Finding A Case guide: