Bifurcated Appellate Review: The Texas Story of Two High Courts


The Texas judicial system has been described as “complex,” without “order or symmetry,” “byzantine,” “Rube Goldberg–designed,” and an “anachronism.” One particular aspect of the Texas system has been at the center of this criticism for over a century—the bifurcated system of appellate review at the highest levels. In Texas, the Supreme Court of Texas has final appellate jurisdiction over civil disputes. The Court of Criminal Appeals, by contrast, has final jurisdiction over criminal matters, including the state’s capital docket. This article will explore the historical basis for this bifurcated appellate system, the challenges and benefits of this system, and attempts at structural reform and will conclude with a few thoughts about the future of this system.

Excerpted from American Bar Association, Judges' Journal, Vol. 54, No. 4, Fall 2014. To read the complete article, click here. (See p 30.)

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