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Methods of Judicial Selection: Texas

Limited Jurisdiction Courts

Constitutional County Court
Jurisdiction: probate cases; class A and class B misdemeanors; civil cases $200-$5,000; appellate jurisdiction in cases from justice of the peace and municipal courts, except in counties with county courts at law
Selection of Judges: partisan election
Retention of Judges: reelection
Qualifications: well informed in state law
County Court at Law
Jurisdiction: jurisdiction varies by county; generally, all civil, criminal, original, and appellate jurisdiction prescribed by law for constitutional county courts; also civil cases up to $100,000 (some courts have higher jurisdiction amounts).
Selection of Judges: partisan election
Retention of Judges: reelection
Qualifications: 25 yrs of age; county resident 2 yrs; licensed in state; practicing lawyer and/or state judge 4 yrs
Probate Court
Jurisdiction: probate matters; guardianship cases; mental health commitments
Selection of Judges: partisan election
Retention of Judges: reelection
Qualifications: law degree required
Municipal Court
Jurisdiction: violations of city ordinances; class C misdemeanors; search and arrest warrants; cases involving owners of dangerous dogs
Selection of Judges: election or appointment, according to municipality charter
Retention of Judges: reelection or reappointment, according to municipality charter
Qualifications: varies according to municipality charters
Justice of the Peace
Jurisdiction: misdemeanors punishable by fines; civil matters > $5,000; search and arrest ordinances; small claims
Selection of Judges: partisan election
Retention of Judges: reelection
Qualifications: within one year of election, must complete a 40-hour course on duties; must also complete 20-hour course each year

Note: The legislature created county courts at law in larger counties to aid the constitutional county court in its judicial functions.

Note: The statutory probate courts are located in the six largest metropolitan areas.