Article V, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution ("Judicial Districts; District Courts; District Judges")

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As amended November 2, 2021:

(a) 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.

(b) Each district judge shall be elected by the qualified voters at a General Election. To be eligible for appointment or election as a district judge, a person must: (1) be a citizen of the United States and a resident of this State; (2) be licensed to practice law in this State; (3) have been a practicing lawyer or a Judge of a Court in this State, or both combined, for eight years next preceding the judge's election, during which time the judge's license to practice law has not been revoked, suspended, or subject to a probated suspension; (4) have resided in the district in which the judge was elected for two years next preceding the election; and (5) reside in the district during the judge's term of office.

(c) A district judge shall hold the office for the term of four years and shall receive for the judge's services an annual salary to be fixed by the Legislature.

(d) A District Court shall conduct its proceedings at the county seat of the county in which the case is pending, except as otherwise provided by law. The Court shall hold the regular terms at the County Seat of each County in the Court's 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 District Court as it may deem necessary.

(e) 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.

Editor Comments

The district courts are the state's trial courts of general jurisdiction. See Article V, Section 8.

Note that Article V, Section 7a(i) limits the creation of judicial districts smaller than a county.

Attorney Steve Smith

Recent Decisions


Historic Decisions

  • Key Western Life Ins. Co. v. State Board of Ins., 350 S.W.2d 839, 846 (Tex. 1961) ("In other words, the district court has held, in effect, that to afford Key Western a trial de novo, under the preponderance of the evidence rule, the court trespasses on that area of our government reserved to the legislature, thus violating Article 2, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution. We hold that a review by the courts of the action taken by the Board of Insurance under Article 3.42, supra, in this case may constitutionally be had under the 'preponderance of the evidence' standard. The district court was without authority to substitute a nonstatutory standard for that prescribed by the statute.")
  • Eades v. Drake, 332 S.W.2d 553, 556 (Tex. 1960) ("As the Legislature created a constitutional district court, the Governor shall appoint a qualified person to the position of judge of such court who shall hold such office until the next succeeding general election and until his successor shall be duly qualified; that at the next general election there shall be elected by the qualified voters of the district a judge who shall be a citizen of the United States and of this State who shall hold his office for the period of four years, and shall receive for his services . . . . Insofar as the provisions of the statute are at variance with the terms of the constitution such provisions are ineffective and void.")
  • Bridgman v. Moore, 183 S.W.2d 705, 708 (Tex. 1944) ("Our Constitution and statutes require that a district judge shall hold court only at the county seat of the county, which means the place where the courthouse is situated. Turner v. Tucker, 113 Tex. 434, 258 S.W. 149; Sec. 7 of Art. 5, Constitution of Texas, Vernon's Ann. St.; Arts. 1602 and 1919, Vernon Ann. Civ. St. Although there is no specific law requiring it, it is also the general rule that judgment should be announced only in open court . . . . Under these conditions we think such procedure, though irregular in the respect mentioned, was not of such nature as to completely nullify the judgment so as to subject it to collateral attack.")
  • Eucaline Medicine Co. v. Standard Inv. Co., 25 S.W.2d 259, 262 (Tex.Civ.App.–Dallas 1930, ref'd) (citations omitted) ("They are authorized to appoint county auditors, and in conjunction with the county judge constitute the juvenile board; at the instance of the grand jury may appoint a committee of accountants . . . , are required to fill vacancies in the office of district clerk, and appoint official court reporters. The uniform legislative practice of conferring upon courts and judges duties, judicial in nature, other than regular constitutional duties, is tantamount to a legislative construction to the effect that the Constitution neither expressly nor impliedly prohibits this class of legislation.")
  • Carter v. M., K. & T. Ry. Co., 157 S.W. 1169, 1172 (Tex. 1913) ("We are of opinion that the effect of that provision was to confer authority upon the Legislature to create emergency courts and in their organization to provide the means by which the existing evils could be remedied expeditiously. The manifest purpose of the people in adopting that amendment was to enable the Legislature to meet such conditions as are present in this case, and it is the duty of the courts . . . . Under the broad power to establish the court and to prescribe its 'jurisdiction and organization,' the Legislature had authority to provide for the appointment of a judge by the Governor and to limit his term of office.")
  • Bowden v. Crawford, 125 S.W. 5, 6 (Tex. 1910) ("It was held that the old statute applied and the court was properly . . . . This is an important question, and one that is fraught with trouble. We therefore deem it best to acquiesce in the ruling of the Court of Criminal Appeals upon the point, and therefore answer the first question: That, in so far as the act in question failed to provide Borden county with two terms of the district court for the year 1909, it is without effect, and leaves the act of 1905 in force for the first circuit of the courts. In reference to the second question, we answer that we are of the opinion that the act of 1909 was inoperative for the spring and summer terms of the courts.")
  • St. L. S.W. Ry. Co. v. Hall, 85 S.W. 786, 789 (Tex. 1905) ("It is at least questionable whether or not the provision in the Constitution for two terms had any other purpose than to secure to the people of a county at least that number . . . . [W]hile the framers of the Constitution may not have thought of more than one court in a county, yet they did not prohibit the Legislature from establishing more than one court; and the requirement of two terms of the one court provided by the Constitution may not apply to other courts in a county provided for by the Legislature. And hence it may be that where there are two courts in a county, one of which holds two terms in a year, the requirement is met.")
  • Austin & N.W.R. Co. v. Cluck, 77 S.W. 403, 405 (Tex. 1903) ("The common law was adopted by the congress of the republic by enactment embraced in the following article . . . . Whatever may be the powers of courts of other states, there can be no doubt that the courts of Texas must look to the Constitution of this state, the enactments of the Legislature, and the common law for their authority to proceed as requested in this case; and, if the authority did not exist at common law, and has not been conferred by the Constitution nor by the statutes of this state, then no court in Texas has the power to force any citizen to submit to a physical examination under such circumstances.")
  • Whitner v. Belknap, 34 S.W. 594, 596 (Tex. 1896) ("The section of the constitution quoted above specifically requires the judge to hold the regular terms of his court at the county seat of each county in his district. It follows by necessary implication that he cannot hold a regular term of his court at any other place than the county seat of the county, and the legislature had no power to authorize or require a district judge to do that which the constitution forbade him to do. . . . The terms of the court prescribed in this act are to be held at fixed dates twice in each year, and are, within the meaning of the constitution, regular terms of the court, and cannot be held away from the county seat.")
  • Lyons-Thomas Hardware Co. v. Perry Stone Mfg. Co., 27 S.W. 100, 109 (Tex. 1894) (citations omitted) ("A judge of the district court in this state has no power to adjudicate the rights of litigants except at the time and places prescribed by law for holding courts, unless the authority is conferred by statute. Hodges v. Ward, cited above, is very much in point. A mandamus was applied for . . . . In this case the order which adjudged that the deeds of trust were valid, and ordered the proceeds to be paid on the preferred debts, adjudicated in vacation the very matter in controversy. The statutes of this state do not invest the judge of the district court with such authority, and the order was a nullity.")
  • Lytle v. Halff, 12 S.W. 610, 612 (Tex. 1889) ("Article 5, § 7, provides: '. . . .' And section 14 of the same article provides that '. . . .' Both of these sections evidence the fact that it was intended the legislature, the only body empowered to make laws, should have power to increase or diminish the number of judicial districts, and to determine what territory should be embraced in a given district; and, in the absence of some limitation in these respects, nothing further appearing to illustrate the intention, the presumption would be that it was the intention to confer on the legislature the power to create a judicial district out of a territory, however small, if the business within it so required.")
  • Brown v. Wheelock, 12 S.W. 111, 112 (Tex. 1889) ("We think the power given by the statute must be regarded as an authority conferred upon the district judge as a commissioner, . . . , and not upon the court itself. He could hardly be compelled to exercise the function; it could hardly be deemed an official duty. Though he should be regarded as acting merely in deference to the will of the legislature, and as a matter of comity, his action in removing the disabilities of minority in any particular case, when done in conformity to the provisions of the law, should be deemed valid, and conclusive of the question of the power of the minor thereafter to contract as a person of full age.")

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