There are two separate legal systems in Texas where most lawsuits will fall – Federal and State. Some cases are appropriate for the federal courts, some for the state. This determination is usually made on a case-by-case basis.
Under the Federal system there are trial courts and appellate courts. All jury trials are conducted at the district court level. If a party feels there is an error during trial, the circuit court will hear any appeal. Appellate courts are composed of judges only; there is no jury past the district court level. If a party feels an error was made at the circuit court level the United States Supreme Court has the option of hearing any appeal.
Under the Texas system there are also trial courts and appellate courts. Just like in the federal system, all jury trials are conducted at the district and county court levels. If a party feels that there was an error made during trial, they have the ability to appeal their case to the State Court of Appeals for their District – there are fourteen. Like the federal system, the appellate courts are composed of judges only. If a party feels that an error was made at the appellate level they have the opportunity to try to appeal again. If it is a civil case, the case goes to the State Supreme Court, if it is a criminal case the case goes to an entity called the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Texas is unique in that we have two “highest” courts depending on whether the case is civil or criminal. Like the federal system, the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have the option to hear this second appeal or not.