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Texas Politics - The Justice System
justice of the peace court
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The Justices of the Peace and Contables Association of Texas helps provide training for Justices of the Peace in Texas, in conjunction with the Texas Justice Court Training Center, based at Texas State University - San Marcos.

4.2    Qualifications

The Texas Constitution establishes the basic qualifications for most judges in the state. Additional qualifications for statutory courts are established in the legislation creating the particular court. In general, the qualifications are not strict.

At the level of appeals courts (Courts of Appeals, Court of Criminal Appeals and Supreme Court) judges must have been licensed to practice law for at least ten years, be citizens of both the United States and Texas, and be at least thirty-five years old. District judges must have been licensed to practice law in Texas for at least four years, be residents of the judicial district in which they serve for at least two years, and be citizens of the state. For County Courts at Law and statutory Probate courts qualifications vary according to the specific statute that created the court.

  • All judges in these courts are required to be licensed to practice law.

  • Most are required to be county residents and have experience as practicing attorneys.

  • Judges of the County Courts at Law must be at least 25 years of age.

Judges of the Constitutional County courts must only be "well informed in the law of the State" but are not required to be lawyers. Most of the 254 constitutional county judges are not licensed to practice law. There are no constitutional or statutory qualifications to serve as a justice of the peace, and very few are lawyers.

All judges of Municipal courts of record must be attorneys, but no statutory qualifications are required of other municipal judges, most of whom are not lawyers.

The state does require that judges throughout the court system complete training courses. Judges in the Constitutional County courts, the County Courts at Law, District courts and appellate courts must complete Supreme Court approved courses in court administration, trial procedure and evidence.

Additionally, justices of the peace are required by law to complete a forty hour course covering the proper execution of that office's duties the first time they serve. After that, they must complete twenty hours of relevant coursework per year. The More Info box contains information about training for Justices of the Peace.

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 116
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