The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 15
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A History of the Civil Courts in Texas
sent his side of the case, and there did not appear to be any
serious questions involved, and it seemed to some members of
the court that he was just killing time. Some of the younger
judges wanted to hurry him along, and began bombarding him
with questions. In the beginning he was quite deferential to
the court. He began his speech by addressing the court "Honor-
able Judges." Then followed some flowery rhetoric that did not
shed any light on the points involved. One of the other judges
interrupted his flow of speech by asking what his point was. He
quickly abandoned his deferential attitude and referred to the
court as "Judges." He went back to his line of argument; again
he was interrupted; then he addressed the court as "Men." Still
he did not reach his point and was reminded that he had not
yet stated his law point. Plainly he was being irritated by the
interruption, but it was felt that he had reached his limit of
familiarity with the court by calling them "Men." But there the
court was mistaken: quickly reminding the court that he had
thirty minutes in which to discuss his case, he said, "If you birds
will lay off me, I will present my case in my own way."
A view of the history of the civil courts in Texas from 1836
to the present can hardly fail to convince anyone that, from
meager beginnings, the courts have developed into a powerful
organization for the administration of the rule of law in society.
The Texas civil judicial system is not only involved in settling
disputes between persons, but also in interpreting the state Bill
of Rights, and at times, even interpreting federal laws and the
federal Constitution.83 The present network of civil courts is
headed by a Supreme Court of nine members who pass only on
questions of civil law. The judges must be at least thirty-five
years old, citizens of the United States and of Texas, and must
have been practicing lawyers or judges of a court of record for
at least ten years. The members are elected for six-year overlap-
ping terms so that three members of the Supreme Court are cho-
sen in each biennial election. There are eleven Courts of Civil
Appeals, each consisting of a chief justice and two associate jus-
tices. These judges must have the same qualifications as the Su-
preme Court judges, and they, too, are elected for six-year over-
s8MacCorkle and Smith, Texas Government, 286.
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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/m1/28/: accessed February 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.