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The Courts Of Texas

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Like most states, Texas has their unique court system, that include civil, criminal, and family courts, usually with courts at both the state and federal levels.

Texas has three court levels - the Texas Justice "JP" Courts, Texas County Courts, and the Texas District Courts. I am not a lawyer, I am a Judgment Broker, and I know how hard it is to enforce a judgment. This article is a summary of Texas civil courts, where most enforceable money judgments originate from.

Most Texas judgments come from the Texas Justice Courts, known as "JP Courts". For the rest of this article, JP is an abbreviation for (Texas Justice "JP" Court). Many Texas Small Claims judgments come from JPs.

JPs are popular because the costs of starting or enforcing a judgment in a JP is much less than it costs in any other kind of Texas court. JPs have jurisdiction over civil matters in which the amount in dispute is not more than a $10,000 limit.

This $10,000 limit was raised in (2007 or 2008) from $5,000. The $10,000 limit is on the original debt amount claimed. In JP, that limit can include pre-judgment interest. Court-related costs can be added to the amount owed, and are in addition to that limit.

The judges in JPs are usually commissioners who are usually not official state-level judges. JP commissioner positions are voted for in local elections. JP commissioners are authorized to make judicial decisions in JP.

JPs (Gov. C. 27.031) are often good choices when the amount owed is near the $10,000 limit, because it is less expensive to file lawsuits, and enforce judgments in JPs.
When the amount in dispute is above $10,000, one should consider Texas County Courts (TCCs), where claims between $10,000 to $250,000 may be filed.  By law (Gov. C. 250003), each county in Texas is allowed to have only one TCC, usually located in the County seat.

All TCCs have Small Claims courts, similar to JPs. All TCC cases are overseen by a real (state-level) judges. In TCCs, both pre and post-judgment interest, and court-related costs, can be added to the amount owed, and  are in addition to the Small Claims limit.

Judgments issued via the TC courts have a case numbering system 12-20 characters long. On Small Claims cases, there is usually the letters SC in it somewhere.

An important quirk of Texas law is there that small claims cases decided at a TCC court sometimes cannot be collected by a Judgment Enforcer or a Collection Agency. (Gov. C. Sec.28.003.)

Above TCC courts, are the Texas District Courts (Defined in article V, Section eight of the Texas Constitution and Section 24.007 and 24.008 of the Government Code.)
The District Courts jurisdiction has no limits, and consists of exclusive, appellate, and original jurisdiction of all actions, matters of law, or equity.

Most Texas Judgments originate from the JPs. Many JPs make rulings on 500-1000
judgments a month, and most of the time the plaintiff wins.  A typical JP case number could be: S09-079J3 (The S09 is the year the case was decided, the 079 is the 79th case that year and the J3 is in JP#3 in that county.  Not all JPs follow this numbering system. (Yet?)

In Texas, when someone says they won a small claims court judgment, it's important to know whether it was won in a JP or a TCC court.

Mark D. Shapiro - Judgment Broker  - - where Judgments go to get Enforced!

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