The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for all criminal matters in the State of Texas. The Court, which is based in Austin, is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight Judges.
Article V of the Texas Constitution vests the judicial power of the state and describes the Court's jurisdiction and sets rules for judicial eligibility, elections, and vacancies.
Only Texas and Oklahoma have two courts of last resort. In Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals has final jurisdiction over all criminal matters, while the Texas Supreme Court is the last word on all non-criminal matters. The Court of Criminal Appeals exercises discretionary review over crimes, which means that it may choose whether or not to review a case. The only cases that the Court must hear are those involving the sentencing of capital punishment or the denial of bail.
The Court is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight Judges (unlike the Texas Supreme Court which is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Justices). Each Judge serves a six-year term, and they are elected in staggered partisan elections. The Presiding Judge is a seat elected by the people. In order to be a Judge, a person must be at least 35 years of age, a United States and Texas citizen, licensed to practice law in Texas, and must have practiced law at least 10 years. Judges must retire at age 75, even if the birthday falls in the middle of a term. The Governor of Texas, subject to Senate confirmation, may appoint a Judge to serve out the remainder of any unexpired term until the next general election.
Like the Texas Supreme Court, the Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals are currently all Republican.
The current Judges of the Court are:
* Sharon Keller, Presiding Judge
* Lawrence E. Meyers, Judge
* Tom Price, Judge
* Paul Womack, Judge
* Cheryl Johnson, Judge
* Michael Keasler, Judge
* Barbara Hervey, Judge
* Charles Holcomb, Judge
* Cathy Cochran, Judge