THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION


ARTICLE 5. JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT


Sec. 1. JUDICIAL POWER; COURTS IN WHICH VESTED. The judicial power of this State shall be vested in one Supreme Court, in one Court of Criminal Appeals, in Courts of Appeals, in District Courts, in County Courts, in Commissioners Courts, in Courts of Justices of the Peace, and in such other courts as may be provided by law.

The Legislature may establish such other courts as it may deem necessary and prescribe the jurisdiction and organization thereof, and may conform the jurisdiction of the district and other inferior courts thereto.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Nov. 8, 1977, and Nov. 4, 1980.)

Sec. 1-a. RETIREMENT, CENSURE, REMOVAL, AND COMPENSATION OF JUSTICES AND JUDGES; STATE COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL CONDUCT; PROCEDURE. (1) Subject to the further provisions of this Section, the Legislature shall provide for the retirement and compensation of Justices and Judges of the Appellate Courts and District and Criminal District Courts on account of length of service, age and disability, and for their reassignment to active duty where and when needed. The office of every such Justice and Judge shall become vacant on the expiration of the term during which the incumbent reaches the age of seventy-five (75) years or such earlier age, not less than seventy (70) years, as the Legislature may prescribe, except that if a Justice or Judge elected to serve or fill the remainder of a six-year term reaches the age of seventy-five (75) years during the first four years of the term, the office of that Justice or Judge shall become vacant on December 31 of the fourth year of the term to which the Justice or Judge was elected.

(2) The State Commission on Judicial Conduct consists of thirteen (13) members, to wit: (i) one (1) Justice of a Court of Appeals; (ii) one (1) District Judge; (iii) two (2) members of the State Bar, who have respectively practiced as such for over ten (10) consecutive years next preceding their selection; (iv) five (5) citizens, at least thirty (30) years of age, not licensed to practice law nor holding any salaried public office or employment; (v) one (1) Justice of the Peace; (vi) one (1) Judge of a Municipal Court; (vii) one (1) Judge of a County Court at Law; and (viii) one (1) Judge of a Constitutional County Court; provided that no person shall be or remain a member of the Commission, who does not maintain physical residence within this State, or who shall have ceased to retain the qualifications above specified for that person's respective class of membership, and provided that a Commissioner of class (i), (ii), (iii), (vii), or (viii) may not reside or hold a judgeship in the same court of appeals district as another member of the Commission. Commissioners of classes (i), (ii), (vii), and (viii) above shall be chosen by the Supreme Court with advice and consent of the Senate, those of class (iii) by the Board of Directors of the State Bar under regulations to be prescribed by the Supreme Court with advice and consent of the Senate, those of class (iv) by appointment of the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate, and the commissioners of classes (v) and (vi) by appointment of the Supreme Court as provided by law, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(3) The regular term of office of Commissioners shall be six (6) years; but the initial members of each of classes (i), (ii) and (iii) shall respectively be chosen for terms of four (4) and six (6) years, and the initial members of class (iiii) for respective terms of two (2), four (4) and six (6) years. Interim vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as vacancies due to expiration of a full term, but only for the unexpired portion of the term in question. Commissioners may succeed themselves in office only if having served less than three (3) consecutive years.

(4) Commissioners shall receive no compensation for their services as such. The Legislature shall provide for the payment of the necessary expense for the operation of the Commission.

(5) The Commission may hold its meetings, hearings and other proceedings at such times and places as it shall determine but shall meet at Austin at least once each year. It shall annually select one of its members as Chairman. A quorum shall consist of seven (7) members. Proceedings shall be by majority vote of those present, except that recommendations for retirement, censure, suspension, or removal of any person holding an office named in Paragraph A of Subsection (6) of this Section shall be by affirmative vote of at least seven (7) members.

(6) A. Any Justice or Judge of the courts established by this Constitution or created by the Legislature as provided in Section 1, Article V, of this Constitution, may, subject to the other provisions hereof, be removed from office for willful or persistent violation of rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas, incompetence in performing the duties of the office, willful violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, or willful or persistent conduct that is clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his duties or casts public discredit upon the judiciary or administration of justice. Any person holding such office may be disciplined or censured, in lieu of removal from office, as provided by this section. Any person holding an office specified in this subsection may be suspended from office with or without pay by the Commission immediately on being indicted by a State or Federal grand jury for a felony offense or charged with a misdemeanor involving official misconduct. On the filing of a sworn complaint charging a person holding such office with willful or persistent violation of rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas, incompetence in performing the duties of the office, willful violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, or willful and persistent conduct that is clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his duties or casts public discredit on the judiciary or on the administration of justice, the Commission, after giving the person notice and an opportunity to appear and be heard before the Commission, may recommend to the Supreme Court the suspension of such person from office. The Supreme Court, after considering the record of such appearance and the recommendation of the Commission, may suspend the person from office with or without pay, pending final disposition of the charge.

B. Any person holding an office named in Paragraph A of this subsection who is eligible for retirement benefits under the laws of this state providing for judicial retirement may be involuntarily retired, and any person holding an office named in that paragraph who is not eligible for retirement benefits under such laws may be removed from office, for disability seriously interfering with the performance of his duties, which is, or is likely to become, permanent in nature.

C. The law relating to the removal, discipline, suspension, or censure of a Justice or Judge of the courts established by this Constitution or created by the Legislature as provided in this Constitution applies to a master or magistrate appointed as provided by law to serve a trial court of this State and to a retired or former Judge who continues as a judicial officer subject to an assignment to sit on a court of this State. Under the law relating to the removal of an active Justice or Judge, the Commission and the review tribunal may prohibit a retired or former Judge from holding judicial office in the future or from sitting on a court of this State by assignment.

(7) The Commission shall keep itself informed as fully as may be of circumstances relating to the misconduct or disability of particular persons holding an office named in Paragraph A of Subsection (6) of this Section, receive complaints or reports, formal or informal, from any source in this behalf and make such preliminary investigations as it may determine. Its orders for the attendance or testimony of witnesses or for the production of documents at any hearing or investigation shall be enforceable by contempt proceedings in the District Court or by a Master.

(8) After such investigation as it deems necessary, the Commission may in its discretion issue a private or public admonition, warning, reprimand, or requirement that the person obtain additional training or education, or if the Commission determines that the situation merits such action, it may institute formal proceedings and order a formal hearing to be held before it concerning a person holding an office or position specified in Subsection (6) of this Section, or it may in its discretion request the Supreme Court to appoint an active or retired District Judge or Justice of a Court of Appeals, or retired Judge or Justice of the Court of Criminal Appeals or the Supreme Court, as a Master to hear and take evidence in the matter, and to report thereon to the Commission. The Master shall have all the power of a District Judge in the enforcement of orders pertaining to witnesses, evidence, and procedure. If, after formal hearing, or after considering the record and report of a Master, the Commission finds good cause therefor, it shall issue an order of public admonition, warning, reprimand, censure, or requirement that the person holding an office or position specified in Subsection (6) of this Section obtain additional training or education, or it shall recommend to a review tribunal the removal or retirement, as the case may be, of the person and shall thereupon file with the tribunal the entire record before the Commission.

(9) A tribunal to review the Commission's recommendation for the removal or retirement of a person holding an office or position specified in Subsection (6) of this Section is composed of seven (7) Justices or Judges of the Courts of Appeals who are selected by lot by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Each Court of Appeals shall designate one of its members for inclusion in the list from which the selection is made. Service on the tribunal shall be considered part of the official duties of a judge, and no additional compensation may be paid for such service. The review tribunal shall review the record of the proceedings on the law and facts and in its discretion may, for good cause shown, permit the introduction of additional evidence. Within 90 days after the date on which the record is filed with the review tribunal, it shall order public censure, retirement or removal, as it finds just and proper, or wholly reject the recommendation. A Justice, Judge, Master, or Magistrate may appeal a decision of the review tribunal to the Supreme Court under the substantial evidence rule. Upon an order for involuntary retirement for disability or an order for removal, the office in question shall become vacant. The review tribunal, in an order for involuntary retirement for disability or an order for removal, may prohibit such person from holding judicial office in the future. The rights of an incumbent so retired to retirement benefits shall be the same as if his retirement had been voluntary.

(10) All papers filed with and proceedings before the Commission or a Master shall be confidential, unless otherwise provided by law, and the filing of papers with, and the giving of testimony before the Commission or a Master shall be privileged, unless otherwise provided by law. However, the Commission may issue a public statement through its executive director or its Chairman at any time during any of its proceedings under this Section when sources other than the Commission cause notoriety concerning a Judge or the Commission itself and the Commission determines that the best interests of a Judge or of the public will be served by issuing the statement.

(11) The Supreme Court shall by rule provide for the procedure before the Commission, Masters, review tribunal, and the Supreme Court. Such rule shall provide the right of discovery of evidence to a Justice, Judge, Master, or Magistrate after formal proceedings are instituted and shall afford to any person holding an office or position specified in Subsection (6) of this Section, against whom a proceeding is instituted to cause his retirement or removal, due process of law for the procedure before the Commission, Masters, review tribunal, and the Supreme Court in the same manner that any person whose property rights are in jeopardy in an adjudicatory proceeding is entitled to due process of law, regardless of whether or not the interest of the person holding an office or position specified in Subsection (6) of this Section in remaining in active status is considered to be a right or a privilege. Due process shall include the right to notice, counsel, hearing, confrontation of his accusers, and all such other incidents of due process as are ordinarily available in proceedings whether or not misfeasance is charged, upon proof of which a penalty may be imposed.

(12) No person holding an office specified in Subsection (6) of this Section shall sit as a member of the Commission in any proceeding involving his own suspension, discipline, censure, retirement or removal.

(13) This Section 1-a is alternative to and cumulative of, the methods of removal of persons holding an office named in Paragraph A of Subsection (6) of this Section provided elsewhere in this Constitution.

(14) The Legislature may promulgate laws in furtherance of this Section that are not inconsistent with its provisions.

(Added Nov. 2, 1948; Subsecs. (1)-(13) amended Nov. 2, 1965; Subsecs. (5)-(9) and (11)-(13) amended Nov. 3, 1970; Subsecs. (2), (5)-(10), and (12) amended Nov. 8, 1977; Subsecs. (2), (6), and (8)-(12) amended and (14) added Nov. 6, 1984; Subsecs. (1) and (2) amended Nov. 6, 2001; Subsecs. (2) and (5) amended Nov. 8, 2005; Subsec. (1) amended Nov. 6, 2007; Subsec. (8) amended Nov. 5, 2013.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISIONS for Sec. 1-a: See Appendix, Notes 3 and 7.)

Sec. 2. SUPREME COURT; JUSTICES; SECTIONS; ELIGIBILITY; ELECTION; VACANCIES. (a) The Supreme Court shall consist of the Chief Justice and eight Justices, any five of whom shall constitute a quorum, and the concurrence of five shall be necessary to a decision of a case; provided, that when the business of the court may require, the court may sit in sections as designated by the court to hear argument of causes and to consider applications for writs of error or other preliminary matters.

(b) No person shall be eligible to serve in the office of Chief Justice or Justice of the Supreme Court unless the person is licensed to practice law in this state and is, at the time of election, a citizen of the United States and of this state, and has attained the age of thirty-five years, and has been a practicing lawyer, or a lawyer and judge of a court of record together at least ten years.

(c) Said Justices shall be elected (three of them each two years) by the qualified voters of the state at a general election; shall hold their offices six years; and shall each receive such compensation as shall be provided by law.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Aug. 25, 1945, Nov. 4, 1980, and Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 2: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 3. JURISDICTION OF SUPREME COURT; WRITS; CLERK. (a) The Supreme Court shall exercise the judicial power of the state except as otherwise provided in this Constitution. Its jurisdiction shall be co-extensive with the limits of the State and its determinations shall be final except in criminal law matters. Its appellate jurisdiction shall be final and shall extend to all cases except in criminal law matters and as otherwise provided in this Constitution or by law. The Supreme Court and the Justices thereof shall have power to issue writs of habeas corpus, as may be prescribed by law, and under such regulations as may be prescribed by law, the said courts and the Justices thereof may issue the writs of mandamus, procedendo, certiorari and such other writs, as may be necessary to enforce its jurisdiction. The Legislature may confer original jurisdiction on the Supreme Court to issue writs of quo warranto and mandamus in such cases as may be specified, except as against the Governor of the State.

(b) The Supreme Court shall also have power, upon affidavit or otherwise as by the court may be determined, to ascertain such matters of fact as may be necessary to the proper exercise of its jurisdiction.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Nov. 4, 1930, Nov. 4, 1980, and Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 3: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 3a. (Repealed Nov. 6, 2001.)

(TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 3a: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 3-b. APPEAL FROM ORDER GRANTING OR DENYING INJUNCTION. The Legislature shall have the power to provide by law, for an appeal direct to the Supreme Court of this State from an order of any trial court granting or denying an interlocutory or permanent injunction on the grounds of the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of any statute of this State, or on the validity or invalidity of any administrative order issued by any state agency under any statute of this State.

(Added Nov. 5, 1940.)

Sec. 3-c. JURISDICTION TO ANSWER QUESTIONS OF STATE LAW CERTIFIED FROM FEDERAL APPELLATE COURT. (a) The supreme court and the court of criminal appeals have jurisdiction to answer questions of state law certified from a federal appellate court.

(b) The supreme court and the court of criminal appeals shall promulgate rules of procedure relating to the review of those questions.

(Added Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 4. COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS; JUDGES. (a) The Court of Criminal Appeals shall consist of eight Judges and one Presiding Judge. The Judges shall have the same qualifications and receive the same salaries as the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and the Presiding Judge shall have the same qualifications and receive the same salary as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Presiding Judge and the Judges shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state at a general election and shall hold their offices for a term of six years.

(b) For the purpose of hearing cases, the Court of Criminal Appeals may sit in panels of three Judges, the designation thereof to be under rules established by the court. In a panel of three Judges, two Judges shall constitute a quorum and the concurrence of two Judges shall be necessary for a decision. The Presiding Judge, under rules established by the court, shall convene the court en banc for the transaction of all other business and may convene the court en banc for the purpose of hearing cases. The court must sit en banc during proceedings involving capital punishment and other cases as required by law. When convened en banc, five Judges shall constitute a quorum and the concurrence of five Judges shall be necessary for a decision. The Court of Criminal Appeals may appoint Commissioners in aid of the Court of Criminal Appeals as provided by law. (Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Nov. 8, 1966, Nov. 8, 1977, and Nov. 6, 2001.)

(TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 4: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 5. JURISDICTION OF COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS; TERMS OF COURT; CLERK. (a) The Court of Criminal Appeals shall have final appellate jurisdiction coextensive with the limits of the state, and its determinations shall be final, in all criminal cases of whatever grade, with such exceptions and under such regulations as may be provided in this Constitution or as prescribed by law.

(b) The appeal of all cases in which the death penalty has been assessed shall be to the Court of Criminal Appeals. The appeal of all other criminal cases shall be to the Courts of Appeal as prescribed by law. In addition, the Court of Criminal Appeals may, on its own motion, review a decision of a Court of Appeals in a criminal case as provided by law. Discretionary review by the Court of Criminal Appeals is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion.

(c) Subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by law, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Judges thereof shall have the power to issue the writ of habeas corpus, and, in criminal law matters, the writs of mandamus, procedendo, prohibition, and certiorari. The Court and the Judges thereof shall have the power to issue such other writs as may be necessary to protect its jurisdiction or enforce its judgments. The court shall have the power upon affidavit or otherwise to ascertain such matters of fact as may be necessary to the exercise of its jurisdiction. (Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Nov. 8, 1966, Nov. 8, 1977, Nov. 4, 1980, and Nov. 6, 2001.)

(TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 5: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 5a. SUPREME COURT, COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS, COURT OF APPEALS; CLERK OF COURT; TERMS. The Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, and each Court of Appeals shall each appoint a clerk of the court, who shall give bond in the manner required by law, may hold office for four years subject to removal by the appointing court for good cause entered of record on the minutes of the court, and shall receive such compensation as the legislature may provide.

(Added Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 5a: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 5b. SUPREME COURT, COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS; LOCATION; TERM. The Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals may sit at any time during the year at the seat of government or, at the court's discretion, at any other location in this state for the transaction of business, and each term of either court shall begin and end with each calendar year.

(Added Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 5b: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 6. COURTS OF APPEALS; TERMS OF JUSTICES; CLERKS. (a) The state shall be divided into courts of appeals districts, with each district having a Chief Justice, two or more other Justices, and such other officials as may be provided by law. The Justices shall have the qualifications prescribed for Justices of the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals may sit in sections as authorized by law. The concurrence of a majority of the judges sitting in a section is necessary to decide a case. Said Court of Appeals shall have appellate jurisdiction co-extensive with the limits of their respective districts, which shall extend to all cases of which the District Courts or County Courts have original or appellate jurisdiction, under such restrictions and regulations as may be prescribed by law. Provided, that the decision of said courts shall be conclusive on all questions of fact brought before them on appeal or error. Said courts shall have such other jurisdiction, original and appellate, as may be prescribed by law.

(b) Each of said Courts of Appeals shall hold its sessions at a place in its district to be designated by the Legislature, and at such time as may be prescribed by law. Said Justices shall be elected by the qualified voters of their respective districts at a general election, for a term of six years and shall receive for their services the sum provided by law.

(c) All constitutional and statutory references to the Courts of Civil Appeals shall be construed to mean the Courts of Appeals.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Nov. 7, 1978, Nov. 4, 1980, Nov. 5, 1985, and Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 6: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 7. JUDICIAL DISTRICTS; DISTRICT JUDGES; TERMS OR SESSIONS; ABSENCE, DISABILITY, OR DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDGE. The State shall be divided into judicial districts, with each district having one or more Judges as may be provided by law or by this Constitution. Each district judge shall be elected by the qualified voters at a General Election and shall be a citizen of the United States and of this State, who is licensed to practice law in this State and has been a practicing lawyer or a Judge of a Court in this State, or both combined, for four (4) years next preceding his election, who has resided in the district in which he was elected for two (2) years next preceding his election, and who shall reside in his district during his term of office and hold his office for the period of four (4) years, and who shall receive for his services an annual salary to be fixed by the Legislature. The Court shall conduct its proceedings at the county seat of the county in which the case is pending, except as otherwise provided by law. He shall hold the regular terms of his Court at the County Seat of each County in his district in such manner as may be prescribed by law. The Legislature shall have power by General or Special Laws to make such provisions concerning the terms or sessions of each Court as it may deem necessary.

The Legislature shall also provide for the holding of District Court when the Judge thereof is absent, or is from any cause disabled or disqualified from presiding.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Nov. 8, 1949, and Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 7a. JUDICIAL DISTRICTS BOARD; REAPPORTIONMENT OF JUDICIAL DISTRICTS. (a) The Judicial Districts Board is created to reapportion the judicial districts authorized by Article V, Section 7, of this constitution.

(b) The membership of the board consists of the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court who serves as chairman, the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the presiding judge of each of the administrative judicial districts of the state, the president of the Texas Judicial Council, and one person who is licensed to practice law in this state appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate for a term of four years. In the event of a vacancy in the appointed membership, the vacancy is filled for the unexpired term in the same manner as the original appointment.

(c) A majority of the total membership of the board constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business. The adoption of a reapportionment order requires a majority vote of the total membership of the board.

(d) The reapportionment powers of the board shall be exercised in the interims between regular sessions of the legislature, except that a reapportionment may not be ordered by the board during an interim immediately following a regular session of the legislature in which a valid and subsisting statewide apportionment of judicial districts is enacted by the legislature. The board has other powers and duties as provided by the legislature and shall exercise its powers under the policies, rules, standards, and conditions, not inconsistent with this section, that the legislature provides.

(e) Unless the legislature enacts a statewide reapportionment of the judicial districts following each federal decennial census, the board shall convene not later than the first Monday of June of the third year following the year in which the federal decennial census is taken to make a statewide reapportionment of the districts. The board shall complete its work on the reapportionment and file its order with the secretary of state not later than August 31 of the same year. If the Judicial Districts Board fails to make a statewide apportionment by that date, the Legislative Redistricting Board established by Article III, Section 28, of this constitution shall make a statewide reapportionment of the judicial districts not later than the 150th day after the final day for the Judicial Districts Board to make the reapportionment.

(f) In addition to the statewide reapportionment, the board may reapportion the judicial districts of the state as the necessity for reapportionment appears by redesignating, in one or more reapportionment orders, the county or counties that comprise the specific judicial districts affected by those reapportionment orders. In modifying any judicial district, no county having a population as large or larger than the population of the judicial district being reapportioned shall be added to the judicial district.

(g) Except as provided by Subsection (i) of this section, this section does not limit the power of the legislature to reapportion the judicial districts of the state, to increase the number of judicial districts, or to provide for consequent matters on reapportionment. The legislature may provide for the effect of a reapportionment made by the board on pending cases or the transfer of pending cases, for jurisdiction of a county court where county court jurisdiction has been vested by law in a district court affected by the reapportionment, for terms of the courts upon existing officers and their duties, and for all other matters affected by the reapportionment. The legislature may delegate any of these powers to the board. The legislature shall provide for the necessary expenses of the board.

(h) Any judicial reapportionment order adopted by the board must be approved by a record vote of the majority of the membership of both the senate and house of representatives before such order can become effective and binding.

(i) The legislature, the Judicial Districts Board, or the Legislative Redistricting Board may not redistrict the judicial districts to provide for any judicial district smaller in size than an entire county except as provided by this section. Judicial districts smaller in size than the entire county may be created subsequent to a general election where a majority of the persons voting on the proposition adopt the proposition "to allow the division of ___________ County into judicial districts composed of parts of ___________ County." No redistricting plan may be proposed or adopted by the legislature, the Judicial Districts Board, or the Legislative Redistricting Board in anticipation of a future action by the voters of any county.

(Added Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 8. JURISDICTION OF DISTRICT COURT. District Court jurisdiction consists of exclusive, appellate, and original jurisdiction of all actions, proceedings, and remedies, except in cases where exclusive, appellate, or original jurisdiction may be conferred by this Constitution or other law on some other court, tribunal, or administrative body. District Court judges shall have the power to issue writs necessary to enforce their jurisdiction.

The District Court shall have appellate jurisdiction and general supervisory control over the County Commissioners Court, with such exceptions and under such regulations as may be prescribed by law.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Nov. 6, 1973, and Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 9. CLERK OF DISTRICT COURT. There shall be a Clerk for the District Court of each county, who shall be elected by the qualified voters and who shall hold his office for four years, subject to removal by information, or by indictment of a grand jury, and conviction of a petit jury. In case of vacancy, the Judge of the District Court shall have the power to appoint a Clerk, who shall hold until the office can be filled by election.

(Amended Nov. 2, 1954, and Nov. 2, 1999.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISIONS for Sec. 9: See Appendix, Note 1.)

Sec. 10. TRIAL BY JURY. In the trial of all causes in the District Courts, the plaintiff or defendant shall, upon application made in open court, have the right of trial by jury; but no jury shall be empaneled in any civil case unless demanded by a party to the case, and a jury fee be paid by the party demanding a jury, for such sum, and with such exceptions as may be prescribed by the Legislature.

Sec. 11. DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDGES; EXCHANGE OF DISTRICTS; HOLDING COURT FOR OTHER JUDGES. No judge shall sit in any case wherein the judge may be interested, or where either of the parties may be connected with the judge, either by affinity or consanguinity, within such a degree as may be prescribed by law, or when the judge shall have been counsel in the case. When the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals, or any member of any of those courts shall be thus disqualified to hear and determine any case or cases in said court, 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 such cause or causes. When a judge of the District Court is disqualified by any of the causes above stated, the parties may, by consent, appoint a proper person to try said case; or upon their failing to do so, a competent person may 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 required by law. This disqualification of judges of inferior tribunals shall be remedied and vacancies in their offices filled as may be prescribed by law.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, and Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 11: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 12. JUDGES TO BE CONSERVATORS OF THE PEACE; INDICTMENTS AND INFORMATION. (a) All judges of courts of this State, by virtue of their office, are conservators of the peace throughout the State.

(b) An indictment is a written instrument presented to a court by a grand jury charging a person with the commission of an offense. An information is a written instrument presented to a court by an attorney for the State charging a person with the commission of an offense. The practice and procedures relating to the use of indictments and informations, including their contents, amendment, sufficiency, and requisites, are as provided by law. The presentment of an indictment or information to a court invests the court with jurisdiction of the cause.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, and Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 13. NUMBER OF GRAND AND PETIT JURORS; NUMBER CONCURRING. Grand and petit juries in the District Courts shall be composed of twelve persons, except that petit juries in a criminal case below the grade of felony shall be composed of six persons; but nine members of a grand jury shall be a quorum to transact business and present bills. In trials of civil cases in the District Courts, nine members of the jury, concurring, may render a verdict, but when the verdict shall be rendered by less than the whole number, it shall be signed by every member of the jury concurring in it. When, pending the trial of any case, one or more jurors not exceeding three, may die, or be disabled from sitting, the remainder of the jury shall have the power to render the verdict; provided, that the Legislature may change or modify the rule authorizing less than the whole number of the jury to render a verdict.

(Amended Nov. 6, 2001, and Sept. 13, 2003.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 13: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 14. JUROR QUALIFICATIONS. (a) The legislature shall prescribe by law the qualifications of grand jurors and petit jurors.

(b) The legislature shall enact laws to exclude from serving on juries persons who have been convicted of bribery, perjury, forgery, or other high crimes.

(Added Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 14: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 15. COUNTY COURT; COUNTY JUDGE. There shall be established in each county in this State a County Court, which shall be a court of record; and there shall be elected in each county, by the qualified voters, a County Judge, who shall be well informed in the law of the State; shall be a conservator of the peace, and shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be elected and qualified. He shall receive as compensation for his services such fees and perquisites as may be prescribed by law.

(Amended Nov. 2, 1954.)

Sec. 16. COUNTY COURTS; JURISDICTION; DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDGE. The County Court has jurisdiction as provided by law. The County Judge is the presiding officer of the County Court and has judicial functions as provided by law. County court judges shall have the power to issue writs necessary to enforce their jurisdiction.

County Courts in existence on the effective date of this amendment are continued unless otherwise provided by law.

When the judge of the County Court is disqualified in any case pending in the County Court the parties interested may, by consent, appoint a proper person to try said case, or upon their failing to do so a competent person may be appointed to try the same in the county where it is pending in such manner as may be prescribed by law.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Nov. 7, 1978, Nov. 4, 1980, and Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 16a. (Repealed Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 17. TERMS OF COUNTY COURT; PROSECUTIONS; JURIES. The County Court shall hold terms as provided by law. Prosecutions may be commenced in said court by information filed by the county attorney, or by affidavit, as may be provided by law. Grand juries empaneled in the District Courts shall inquire into misdemeanors, and all indictments therefor returned into the District Courts shall forthwith be certified to the County Courts or other inferior courts, having jurisdiction to try them for trial; and if such indictment be quashed in the County, or other inferior court, the person charged, shall not be discharged if there is probable cause of guilt, but may be held by such court or magistrate to answer an information or affidavit. A jury in the County Court shall consist of six persons; but no jury shall be empaneled to try a civil case unless demanded by one of the parties, who shall pay such jury fee therefor, in advance, as may be prescribed by law, unless the party makes affidavit that the party is unable to pay the jury fee.

(Amended Nov. 5, 1985, and Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 17: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 18. DIVISION OF COUNTIES INTO PRECINCTS; ELECTION OF CONSTABLE AND JUSTICE OF THE PEACE; COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT. (a) Each county in the State with a population of 50,000 or more, according to the most recent federal census, from time to time, for the convenience of the people, shall be divided into not less than four and not more than eight precincts. Each county in the State with a population of 18,000 or more but less than 50,000, according to the most recent federal census, from time to time, for the convenience of the people, shall be divided into not less than two and not more than eight precincts. Each county in the State with a population of less than 18,000, according to the most recent federal census, from time to time, for the convenience of the people, shall be designated as a single precinct or, if the Commissioners Court determines that the county needs more than one precinct, shall be divided into not more than four precincts. Notwithstanding the population requirements of this subsection, Chambers County and Randall County, from time to time, for the convenience of the people, shall be divided into not less than two and not more than six precincts. A division or designation under this subsection shall be made by the Commissioners Court provided for by this Constitution. Except as provided by this section, in each such precinct there shall be elected one Justice of the Peace and one Constable, each of whom shall hold his office for four years and until his successor shall be elected and qualified; provided that in a county with a population of less than 150,000, according to the most recent federal census, in any precinct in which there may be a city of 18,000 or more inhabitants, there shall be elected two Justices of the Peace, and in a county with a population of 150,000 or more, according to the most recent federal census, each precinct may contain more than one Justice of the Peace Court. Notwithstanding the population requirements of this subsection, any county that is divided into four or more precincts on November 2, 1999, shall continue to be divided into not less than four precincts.

(b) Each county shall, in the manner provided for justice of the peace and constable precincts, be divided into four commissioners precincts in each of which there shall be elected by the qualified voters thereof one County Commissioner, who shall hold his office for four years and until his successor shall be elected and qualified. The County Commissioners so chosen, with the County Judge as presiding officer, shall compose the County Commissioners Court, which shall exercise such powers and jurisdiction over all county business, as is conferred by this Constitution and the laws of the State, or as may be hereafter prescribed.

(c) When the boundaries of justice of the peace and constable precincts are changed, each Justice and Constable in office on the effective date of the change, or elected to a term of office beginning on or after the effective date of the change, shall serve in the precinct in which the person resides for the term to which each was elected or appointed, even though the change in boundaries places the person's residence outside the precinct for which he was elected or appointed, abolishes the precinct for which he was elected or appointed, or temporarily results in extra Justices or Constables serving in a precinct. When, as a result of a change of precinct boundaries, a vacancy occurs in the office of Justice of the Peace or Constable, the Commissioners Court shall fill the vacancy by appointment until the next general election.

(d) When the boundaries of commissioners precincts are changed, each commissioner in office on the effective date of the change, or elected to a term of office beginning on or after the effective date of the change, shall serve in the precinct to which each was elected or appointed for the entire term to which each was elected or appointed, even though the change in boundaries places the person's residence outside the precinct for which he was elected or appointed.

(e) The office of Constable is abolished in Mills County, Reagan County, and Roberts County. The powers, duties, and records of the office are transferred to the County Sheriff.

(f) The Legislature by general law may prescribe the qualifications of constables.

(g) (Redesignated as Subsec. (f) Nov. 6, 2001.)

(h) The commissioners court of a county may declare the office of constable in a precinct dormant if at least seven consecutive years have passed since the end of the term of the person who was last elected or appointed to the office and during that period of time no person was elected to fill that office, or during that period a person was elected to that office, but the person failed to meet the qualifications of that office or failed to assume the duties of that office. If an office of constable is declared dormant, the office may not be filled by election or appointment and the previous officeholder does not continue to hold the office under Subsection (a) of this section or Section 17, Article XVI, of this constitution. The records of an office of constable declared dormant are transferred to the county clerk of the county. The commissioners court may reinstate an office of constable declared dormant by vote of the commissioners court or by calling an election in the precinct to reinstate the office. The commissioners court shall call an election to reinstate the office if the commissioners court receives a petition signed by at least 10 percent of the qualified voters of the precinct. If an election is called under this subsection, the commissioners court shall order the ballot for the election to be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: "Reinstating the office of Constable of Precinct No. ___ that was previously declared dormant." The office of constable is reinstated if a majority of the voters of the precinct voting on the question at the election approve the reinstatement.

(Amended Nov. 2, 1954; Subsecs. (a) and (b) amended and (c) and (d) added Nov. 8, 1983; Subsec. (a) amended Nov. 5, 1985, Nov. 3, 1987, and Nov. 7, 1995; Subsecs. (e) and (f) added Nov. 7, 1995; Subsec. (g) added Nov. 4, 1997; Subsec. (a) amended Nov. 2, 1999; Subsec. (e) amended, Subsec. (f) deleted, and Subsec. (g) redesignated as Subsec. (f) Nov. 6, 2001; Subsec. (h) added Nov. 5, 2002.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 18: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 19. JUSTICES OF THE PEACE; JURISDICTION; EX OFFICIO NOTARIES PUBLIC. Justice of the peace courts shall have original jurisdiction in criminal matters of misdemeanor cases punishable by fine only, exclusive jurisdiction in civil matters where the amount in controversy is two hundred dollars or less, and such other jurisdiction as may be provided by law. Justices of the peace shall be ex officio notaries public.

(Amended Nov. 7, 1978, and Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 20. COUNTY CLERK. 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 clerk of the County and Commissioners Courts and recorder of the county, whose duties, perquisites and fees of office shall be prescribed by the Legislature, and a vacancy in whose office shall be filled by the Commissioners Court, until the next general election; provided, that in counties having a population of less than 8,000 persons there may be an election of a single Clerk, who shall perform the duties of District and County Clerks.

(Amended Nov. 2, 1954.)

Sec. 21. COUNTY ATTORNEYS; DISTRICT ATTORNEYS. A County Attorney, for counties in which there is not a resident Criminal District Attorney, shall be elected by the qualified voters of each county, who shall be commissioned by the Governor, and hold his office for the term of four years. In case of vacancy the Commissioners Court of the county shall have the power to appoint a County Attorney until the next general election. The County Attorneys shall represent the State in all cases in the District and inferior courts in their respective counties; but if any county shall be included in a district in which there shall be a District Attorney, the respective duties of District Attorneys and County Attorneys shall in such counties be regulated by the Legislature. The Legislature may provide for the election of District Attorneys in such districts, as may be deemed necessary, and make provision for the compensation of District Attorneys and County Attorneys. District Attorneys shall hold office for a term of four years, and until their successors have qualified.

(Amended Nov. 2, 1954.)

Sec. 22. (Repealed Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 23. SHERIFFS. There shall be elected by the qualified voters of each county a Sheriff, who shall hold his office for the term of four years, whose duties, qualifications, perquisites, and fees of office, shall be prescribed by the Legislature, and vacancies in whose office shall be filled by the Commissioners Court until the next general election.

(Amended Nov. 2, 1954, and Nov. 2, 1993.)

Sec. 24. REMOVAL OF COUNTY OFFICERS. County Judges, county attorneys, clerks of the District and County Courts, justices of the peace, constables, and other county officers, may be removed by the Judges of the District Courts for incompetency, official misconduct, habitual drunkenness, or other causes defined by law, upon the cause therefor being set forth in writing and the finding of its truth by a jury.

Sec. 25. (Repealed Nov. 5, 1985.)

Sec. 26. CRIMINAL CASES; APPEAL BY STATE. The State is entitled to appeal in criminal cases, as authorized by general law.

(Amended Nov. 3, 1987.)

Sec. 27. (Repealed Nov. 6, 2001.)

(TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 27: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 28. VACANCY IN OFFICE OF SUPREME COURT, COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS, COURT OF APPEALS AND DISTRICT COURTS TO BE FILLED BY THE GOVERNOR. (a) A vacancy in the office of Chief Justice, Justice, or Judge of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals, or the District Courts shall be filled by the Governor until the next succeeding General Election for state officers, and at that election the voters shall fill the vacancy for the unexpired term.

(b) A vacancy in the office of County Judge or Justice of the Peace shall be filled by the Commissioners Court until the next succeeding General Election.

(Amended Aug. 11, 1891, Nov. 4, 1958, and Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 28: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 29. COUNTY COURT; TERMS OF COURT; PROBATE BUSINESS; COMMENCEMENT OF PROSECUTIONS; JURY. The County Court shall hold at least four terms for both civil and criminal business annually, as may be provided by the Legislature, or by the Commissioners Court of the county under authority of law, and such other terms each year as may be fixed by the Commissioners Court; provided, the Commissioners Court of any county having fixed the times and number of terms of the County Court, shall not change the same again until the expiration of one year. Said court shall dispose of probate business either in term time or vacation, under such regulation as may be prescribed by law. Until otherwise provided, the terms of the County Court shall be held on the first Mondays in February, May, August and November, and may remain in session three weeks.

(Added Aug. 14, 1883; amended Nov. 6, 2001.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISION for Sec. 29: See Appendix, Note 3.)

Sec. 30. JUDGES OF COURTS OF COUNTY-WIDE JURISDICTION; CRIMINAL DISTRICT ATTORNEYS. The Judges of all Courts of county-wide jurisdiction heretofore or hereafter created by the Legislature of this State, and all Criminal District Attorneys now or hereafter authorized by the laws of this State, shall be elected for a term of four years, and shall serve until their successors have qualified.

(Added Nov. 2, 1954.)

Sec. 31. COURT ADMINISTRATION; RULE-MAKING AUTHORITY; ACTION ON MOTION FOR REHEARING. (a) The Supreme Court is responsible for the efficient administration of the judicial branch and shall promulgate rules of administration not inconsistent with the laws of the state as may be necessary for the efficient and uniform administration of justice in the various courts.

(b) The Supreme Court shall promulgate rules of civil procedure for all courts not inconsistent with the laws of the state as may be necessary for the efficient and uniform administration of justice in the various courts.

(c) The legislature may delegate to the Supreme Court or Court of Criminal Appeals the power to promulgate such other rules as may be prescribed by law or this Constitution, subject to such limitations and procedures as may be provided by law.

(d) Notwithstanding Section 1, Article II, of this constitution and any other provision of this constitution, if the supreme court does not act on a motion for rehearing before the 180th day after the date on which the motion is filed, the motion is denied.

(Added Nov. 5, 1985; Subsec. (d) added Nov. 4, 1997.)