Supreme Court

All rise, please.

The Texas court system was structured similarly to the U.S. Supreme Court when the Texas Capitol was first opened in 1888.

In 1891, the courts were split from a single court into two areas of jurisdiction: civil and criminal. The Supreme Court managed all civil and juvenile cases, while the Court of Criminal Appeals handled criminal cases. The courts were originally located on the third floor of the Texas Capitol. That space has been restored to its original appearance and reflects the original carpeting, furniture, and draperies.

The Supreme Court courtroom also features portraits of past justices, as well as a painting of the first three female court justices. In 1925, Governor Pat Neff appointed Hortense Ward, Nellie Robertson, and Edith Williams to a special Supreme Court to preside over the Johnson v. Darr case, which concerned a land dispute involving the Woodmen of the World, a fraternal organization to which all three sitting male justices belonged. Hortense Ward served as Chief Justice since she had the minimum required seven years' legal experience to serve on the Supreme Court. The appointment of the three women justices was the first time any woman held a judgeship in a Texas court. At the time, women weren't even allowed to be considered for juries.

The Supreme Court and the Criminal Appeals courtrooms have been located outside the Capitol since 1959.

New courtrooms were added during the construction of the Capitol annex from 1990 to 1993. Both the civil and criminal courts as well as the Texas Law Library are now located on the northwest side of the Capitol grounds.