THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LX JULY, 1956 No. 1
A fltory of the ivil Courts
i Z Cezas
LEILA CLARK WYNN
DESPITE its many shortcomings-the slowness with which
it operates, its involvement in politics, and the lax
qualifications for some judges-the civil court system
in Texas is a remarkable organ of jurisprudence. Few laymen
who live under the protective wing of this judical system have
a true understanding and appreciation of the organization or
the function of these courts. The importance of these courts
in the life of every citizen cannot be overestimated, for the mass
of civil litigation occurs in state, rather than federal, courts.
The courts, while clumsy and complex, are the stabilizing ele-
ment in our society.
In his historical introduction to Texas Jurisprudence, the late
Chief Justice Nelson Phillips says of the Texas judicial system:
.. That jurisprudence embodies the very spirit of the common-
wealth. It reflects its tragic experience. It expresses the hard and
bitter travail of its birth. It yields something of the valor, the
heroism by which its freedom was won. It is in itself the epic story
of the early struggle against obstacle and adversity-the newborn
State breasting the surging tides of time and circumstances, and con-
quering them through the indomitable will and unbafflled resolu-
tion of its people. And then it unfolds the marvelous civic, economic
and industrial development by which has been attained the 'Texas of
today. . For nothing so bespeaks a people as their notions of justice.
Their jurisprudence, comprising those ideals, is the supreme expres-
sion of their moral convictions. In it their very character is indelibly
written, and hence by it they are to be truly judged.2
1A. N. Holcombe, State Government in the United States (New York, 1951), 450.
2Nelson Phillips, "Historical Introduction," Texas Jurisprudence (45 vols.; San
Francisco, 19i9), I, p. xxvii.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/. Accessed April 26, 2015.