What is the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals?
Texas is one of only two states with bifurcated high courts (the other such state being Oklahoma). When high courts are bifurcated, there is one high court for criminal cases and another high court for civil cases (i.e., cases that are not criminal cases). In Texas, civil cases are heard by the Supreme Court of Texas, and criminal cases are heard by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Intermediate appellate courts (i.e., courts of appeals) are not bifurcated in Texas. So, a Texas court of appeals hears both civil and criminal cases. Prior to September 1, 1981, Texas intermediate appellate courts only heard civil cases, and all criminal appeals were taken directly from the trial court to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Currently, appeals of capital punishment cases are taken directly to the Court of Criminal Appeals (as opposed to first being taken to the intermediate court of appeals).