Justice Courts are established by counties and municipalities and have the authority to deal with class B and C misdemeanors, infractions, violations of city ordinances, and small claims committed within their territorial jurisdiction. Justice Court jurisdictions are determined by the boundaries of local government entities such as cities or counties.
There are two types of Justice Court judges: county judges who are initially appointed by a county commission and then stand for retention election every 6 years, and municipal judges who are appointed by city officials for a 6-year term. Some are both county and municipal judges. Some judges hear cases daily, and others have limited court hours each week. Justice Court judges need not be attorneys, although they receive extensive and continuing legal training. All Justice Court judges must attend 30 hours of continuing judicial education each year to remain certified. One hundred eight Justice Court judges serve in 134 county and municipal courts.
Four-person juries hear jury trials in the Justice Courts. City attorneys prosecute cases involving municipal ordinance violations and state law in municipal courts; county attorneys prosecute cases involving violations of county ordinances and state law in the county courts. Litigants and defendants often act without an attorney (pro se) in Justice Courts, but may hire counsel or apply for a public defender.
Any person not satisfied with a judgment rendered in a Justice Court is entitled to a trial de novo (new trial) in the District Court. Justice Courts also have a Small Claims Department, which has jurisdiction over claims under $11,000.
You are required to be present for all court appearances as notified by the court. If you fail to appear when notified, a warrant may be issued. Please keep the court informed of your current address as long as your case is active with the court. Please check in at the court window each time you arrive for court.
The following are not allowed in court: weapons, small children, food/drink, tank-tops, shorts, halter-tops, mini-skirts or clothing with inappropriate pictures or words. You may be asked to reschedule your hearing if you are not properly dressed.