In the typical court case, one side wins and the other side loses. The losing party often wants to appeal the case. Generally, any such appeal will be heard by a court of appeals.
A court of appeals does not hear the case again. Instead, the court of appeals considers written arguments by lawyers. Sometimes the lawyers also make oral arguments.
One lawyer will argue that mistakes were made in the initial court proceedings. The other lawyer will argue that everything was just fine.
Courts of appeals carefully consider these arguments and then decide which one is right. The court of appeals must explain its decision in a written opinion. While further appeals are sometimes possible, the court of appeals typically has the final say in the case.
There are 14 courts of appeals in the Texas court system. Each court of appeals hears appeals from cases that took place in certain counties. The First Court of Appeals hears appeals from the following ten counties:
- Fort Bend
The voters in these ten counties elect nine judges to serve on the First Court of Appeals. One of the nine judges is known as the Chief Justice. He or she is the lead member of the Court.
Ideally, the judges on a court of appeals are very good at weighing legal arguments and then explaining their conclusions in writing. It’s important that these decisions by the judges are based strictly on the law without regard for which side wins. If people perceive that politics influences the decisions of these judges, then confidence in our courts is undermined. So it’s critical that our courts are viewed as being above politics.