Criminal District Attorney - Appeals
A Criminal District Attorney is a statutorily created office that is legally bound to not only handle all criminal matters for the designated county but also all civil matters related to representation of the county, county officials, and all associated matters. The Texas Constitution provides for the office of County Attorney in each county.
However, the legislature may abolish the office of County Attorney by establishing a Criminal District Attorney for such a county. This legislative change took place in Comal County in 1997. Prior to this, Comal County had a County Attorney and a District Attorney.
The statutory duties of a Criminal District Attorney include the following:
- Represent the State of Texas and victims of crimes in all criminal cases in the District Courts, County Courts-at-Law, and Justice Courts and in appeals therefrom.
- Represent the best interests of our children in Child Protective Services cases.
- Represent the victims of domestic abuse by obtaining protective orders against abusive family members.
- Represent the State of Texas and victims of crimes in ensuring that justice is rendered for juveniles accused of criminal offenses.
- Provide County Officials with written opinions or advice relating to the official duties of that official.
Appeals from the County Courts at Law and District Courts are heard in the Texas Courts of Appeals. Appeals from Comal County Courts are heard in the Third Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas. Appeals from the Third Court of Appeals decisions are heard in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals also located in Austin, Texas.
The defendant files a Notice of Appeal in the County Court at Law or the District Court and the case is then sent to the Third Court of Appeals in Austin. The defendant, now called the Appellant, and the State (as Appellee) file briefs that summarize the case facts, frame the legal issues to be decided, and present persuasive written arguments (supported by constitutional, statutory or prior case decision authority). Either party can request that the case be scheduled before the appellate court judges for oral argument. The appellate court will eventually issue a written opinion (or several opinions, if the justices disagree). Not all appellate opinions are "published" (i.e., printed in official "reporter" services, such as South Western Reporter 3rd). The legal analysis and conclusions in published opinions are given greater precedential authority than "unpublished" opinions.