The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
The Court of Criminal Appeals is the state supreme court in Texas for all criminal cases. It was born out of constitutional amendments--effective in September of 1891--from a predecessor court known as the Court of Appeals. From 1891 until 1981, the Court of Criminal Appeals was the only appellate court in Texas authorized to hear direct appeals in criminal cases. In 1981, the 14 intermediate (previously only civil) appellate courts in Texas were authorized to begin hearing direct appeals in most criminal cases. At the same time, the Court of Criminal Appeals was given the authority to review the decisions of those intermediate appellate courts in criminal cases on a discretionary basis. And today, the Court of Criminal Appeals remains the state court of last resort for all criminal cases.
The Court automatically hears direct appeals in all death penalty cases. The Court reviews the decisions of the intermediate courts of appeals, in other than death penalty cases, according to its own discretion. And the Court hears thousands of applications for the writ of habeas corpus every year from people who challenge final felony convictions.
The Court of Criminal Appeals is widely regarded as one of the busiest appellate courts in the entire country.