Texas Court Records

Why Texas Court Records are Available to the Public?

The Texas Public Information Act is a series of laws incorporated into the Texas Governmental Code that serve to ensure the public is provided access to information held by the state government. The laws are analogous to the United States Freefom of Information Act, which guarantees accessibility of information held by federal government agencies to the public and aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public.

What Court Records Access Means To You?

The Texas Public Information Act is a series of legislative acts that have been incorporated into the Texas General Code in Title 5, Subchapter A, Subtitle 552. The act is intended to guarantee public access to government information in the interest of providing transparency of the government to the people it governs.

Accountability to the Public

When the legislature enacted The Texas Public Information Act, it expressively declared that “access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state,” Texas State Library. Indeed, in Texas “access to government and court records in particular has been deemed a fundamental interest in citizenship” and has emphasized that “maximum disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations [is] to be promoted by the act.” By promoting prompt public access to government records, the Public Information Act is “intended to safeguard the accountability of government to the public.”

How the Texas Court Process Functions?

Most cases in Texas courts begin in one of the 254 superior or trial courts located in each of the state’s 254 counties.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the Courts of Appeals. Most cases before the Courts of Appeals involves the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party involved in the case. The legislature divided the state geographically into six appellate districts.

The Supreme Court of Texas is the court of last resort for civil matters (including juvenile delinquecy that the law considers to be a civil matter and not criminal) in the state of Texas. A different court, the Texas Courts of Criminal Appeals, is the court of last resort for criminal matters in the State of Texas.

Some differences between Civil Court and Small Claims Court:

 Court

Small Claims

Civil Court

Appeal

Only the party who was sued can file an appeal; the person who filed the claim cannot appeal

Either party can appeal

Attorney Representation

You cannot have a lawyer file your claim or go to court with you, except for an appeal

You can have a lawyer file your claim and go to court for you

Filling fee for either defendant or plaintiff’s claim

$30 to $100 per claim

$180 to $320 per claim

Pre-trial discovery allowed

No

Yes

How long to complete your case

30-70 days after the complaint

120 days after you file the complaint

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you do not speak English well, it is advisable to bring someone who speaks English to court with you and ask the judge if that person can serve as your interpreter. The court cannot provide you an interpreter.

You can find an interpreter by using the Texas Courts Interpreter Search page. Also see the webpage with interpreter information on this website: Licensed Court Interpreters.

How Texas Court Records Are Structured?

The court records category is made up of civil cases and small claims matters.

Civil cases are matters where the petitioner is seeking more than $250,000. Civil cases also include other types of disputes that do not involve money, such as cases to resolve (or “quiet”) title to real property, cases asking for civil restraining orders and requests to change your name or your child’s name. Basically, an unlimited civil case is any case that is not a limited civil case under the definition of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedures: Rules & Forms.

  • Auto Torts
  • Other Personal Injury / Property
    Damage / Wrongful Death
  • Other Tort
  • Other Civil
  • Contracts
  • Real Property
  • Emloyment
  • Enforcement of Judgment
  • Unlawful Detainers
  • Judicial Review
  • Complex Litigation
  • Small Claims Appeals

Small Claims Court filings are cases where the petitioner is seeking $10,000 or less and is not represented by counsel. Close to 65,000 small claims cases are filed statewide every year.

Here are some examples of common Small Claims Court cases:

  • You loan money to a friend, and now he/she refuses to pay you back.
  • Your new TV does not work, and the store will not fix it.
  • More than a month has gone by since you moved out of your apartment, you satisfied all three of the conditions of your lease and gave your correct forwarding address when you moved out. Now management refuses to return your security deposit and will not give you a statement of what they have done with your deposit.
  • Small Claims Court can also order a defendant to do something, as long as the claim is also asking for money. For example, the court can cancel a contract or the court can order your neighbor to pay you for your lawn mower or order them to return it to you right away.
  • If after having your car repaired, you discover that you have been charged for repairs that were not in fact made.
  • You buy a new appliance that has a warranty. It breaks down shortly after you buy it, through no fault of your own, and the seller refuses to honor the warranty. 
Texas State Archives

State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Case Number
  • Case Summary
  • Docket
  • Police Report
  • Court Documents
  • Legal Records
  • Case File
  • Statements
  • Transcripts
  • Legal Forms
  • Case Notes
  • Disposition
  • Trial Records
  • Arbitration
  • Case Evidence
  • Witnesses
  • Interviews
  • Descriptions
  • Mugshots
  • Charges
  • Legal Motions
  • Attorney Records
  • Prosecution Records
Texas Hidalgo County Courthouse Building in Hidalgo circa 1886

Texas Hidalgo County Courthouse Building in Hidalgo circa 1886

  • State archives hold over 72,000 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of courts – trial and appellate.
  • There are 14 districts in Texas Courts of Appeal.
  • There are 420 districts in Texas District Courts.
  • The Supreme Court of Texas is the court of last resort for civil matters (including juvenile delinquency which the law considers to be a civil matter and not criminal) in the state of Texas.
  •  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is the court of last resort for criminal matters in the State of Texas.
  • Lake Park Estates Neighborhood Association
  • Madd
  • SAA
  • Texans For Public Justice
  • Texas Service Association