County Court at Law

Constitutional County Courts

As provided in the Texas Constitution, each of the 254 counties of the State has a single county court presided over by a county judge.

These courts have concurrent jurisdiction with justice of the peace and district courts in civil cases in which the amount in controversy is small. Jurisdiction is said to be concurrent when two levels of courts have authority to try the same type of case.
The constitutional county courts generally hear the probate cases filed in the county. They have original jurisdiction over all Class A and ClassB misdemeanor criminal cases, which are the more serious minor offenses. These courts usually have appellate jurisdiction in cases appealed from justice of the peace and municipal courts, except in counties where county courts at law have been established. Unless the appeal is one from a designated municipal court of record (trial proceedings are recorded by a court reporter), the appeal takes the form of a trial de novo (a completely new trial).

In addition to performing judicial functions, the county judge serves as the administrative head of the county government. In the more populated counties, the administrative duties occupy most of the time of the county judge, and the Legislature has created county courts at law and statutory probate courts to relieve the county judge of most, and in some cases all, of the judicial duties usually performed by that office.

Number: 1 judge per court.

Selection: Partisan, county-wide election. Vacancies between elections filled by appointment by county commissioners.

Qualifications: “Shall be well informed in the law of the State.” (Law license not required.)

Term: 4 years

Categories: County Court at Law