The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 5
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A History of the Civil Courts in Texas
not exceed one hundred dollars, exclusive of interest.9
Reconstruction brought military government with dictatorial
powers to Texas in 1867, but the judicial system remained much
the same, even under the new Constitution of 1869. The only
change was that the number of justices on the Supreme Court
was decreased from five to three, and these were to be appointed
by the military governor. The Supreme Court during this period
is known as the Semicolon Court, taking its sobriquet from the
Rodriquez Case.1o which invalidated the general election of 1873
by reason of the placement of a semicolon in Section 6, Article 3,
of the Constitution of 1869. The Semicolon Court holds a dis-
tinctly unenviable position in the judicial history of Texas, since
no subsequent court has accepted its opinions as authoritative or
cites its cases.*"
The constitution which was adopted in 1876 is still, though
often amended, the constitution under which Texas operates.
Many jurists, lawyers, and students of political science believe
this document to be antiquated and that it should be superseded
by a new constitution prepared by a convention and submitted
to the voters in a statewide election. This idea has not yet ad-
vanced beyond the discussion stage, however, since the legisla-
ture has made no provision for a constitutional convention.
So far the Constitution of 1876 has been patched up by amend-
ments but never replaced.
According to the Constitution of 1876, Texas was provided
with a new Supreme Court of three elected members who had
only appellate jurisdiction over civil cases in which the district
court had original jurisdiction. The Supreme Court was also
given power to make rules for all state courts and to regulate
proceedings. Until 1876 all procedure had been prescribed by
legislation. A Court of Appeals of three elected members was
given jurisdiction in civil cases of which county courts had
original or appellate jurisdiction. This constitution furthermore
provided for the establishment of twenty-six judicial districts
9F. A. Williams, "Court Procedure in Texas," Texas Law Review (Austin, 1927),
10Texas Supreme Court Reports, XXXIX, 709.
11Walter Prescott Webb and H. Bailey Carroll (eds.), The Handbook of Texas
(2 vols.; Austin, 1952), II, 592.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957, periodical, 1957; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/m1/17/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.