The Reconstruction Courts of Texas, 1867-1873
In his official actions as a jurist, however, Roberts and the
courts over which he presided took a realistic view of the situa-
tion.28 When attention was called to a case by the Semicolon
Court, Roberts and his associates cited it with approval if they
thought the holding was correct and when they thought the deci-
sion was unsound, they said so. In Garrison vs. Blanton,29 Judge
Roberts said: "It has been held, by this court, in cases of insanity,
that 'witnesses should be allowed to give their opinions, together
with the facts on which their opinions are based.' " Renn vs.
Samos, a decision of the Semicolon Court, opinion by Judge
Ogden,30 is cited as authority for this statement.
Again in Coburne vs. Poe,31 Judge Roberts said: "Attention
has been repeatedly called to this statute to encourage parties to
conform strictly to its requirements." Roberts cited Ellis vs.
McKinley,32 another opinion by Judge Ogden.
In Fitzgerald vs. Turner,83 however, Judge Roberts discussed
Clayton's Administrator vs. Frazier,34 a Semicolon Court decision
by Judge Walker, and in effect overruled the same.
Instances such as these may be multiplied. When Roberts and
his associates took over in 1874, a number of cases were pending
upon motions for rehearing and a high percentage of these mo-
tions were granted. On the whole the Roberts Court seems to have
had no hesitancy in dealing with the decisions of its predecessor,
but each case was considered on its merits as to whether or not the
opinion rendered therein constituted a correct exposition of the
law. This was the practical view. The lawyers of the state had of
necessity brought their cases before the Reconstruction courts.
Decisions had been made, and the problems incident thereto had
to be met. This was a period in which some important land liti-
gation took place, particularly with reference to the validity of
28The first Supreme Court under the Constitution of 1876 was composed of
three justices instead of five and its members were elected by popular vote. Rob-
erts was elected chief justice and George F. Moore and Robert S. Gould, associate
justices. All had served on the last court under the Constitution of x869.-Ibid., 218.
29Texas Reports, XLVIII, a99.
solIbid., XXX, 766.
3llbid., XL, 410.
a2Ibid., XXX, 67.
s3lbid., XLIII, 79.
a34bid., XXXIII, 99
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/. Accessed February 6, 2016.