Texas Judicial Council:
An Inventory of Judicial Council Records at the Texas State Archives, 1961-1962, 1967-1997
The Texas Judicial Council (until 1975 named the Texas Civil Judicial Council) was created in 1929 (Senate Bill 252, 41st Texas Legislature, Regular Session) and operates under authority of Texas Government Code, Chapter 71 as the policymaking body for the state judiciary. The council is charged with making a continuous study of the organization and operation of the civil and criminal courts of the state, their rules and methods of procedure, and the administration of justice; receiving and considering suggestions from the judiciary, the Bar and the public; formulating methods of simplifying judicial procedure; gathering judicial statistics; making investigations on the administration of justice; and making a detailed report of its proceedings, recommendations, and suggestions to the Governor and the Supreme Court.
The council originally consisted of 18 members: the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas (who served as chair); Chair and Immediate Past Chair of the House Judiciary Committee; Chair and Immediate Past Chair of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee; two justices of the Courts of Civil Appeals; two presiding justices of the Administrative Judicial Districts; seven lawyers; and two laymen, one of whom was required to be a journalist. The lawyer and lay members served six-year, overlapping terms, while Civil Appeals justices and presiding judges served overlapping terms of four years; all were appointed by the Governor. The other members served as long as they held their required office. The council grew to 22 members by 1999, consisting of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas (who serves as chair); the presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals; Chair of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee; Chair of the House Judicial Affairs Committee; one member of the Senate (appointed by the lieutenant governor), one member of the House (appointed by the speaker of the House); ten members designated to serve staggered four-year terms by the chief justice of the Supreme Court: two justices of the courts of appeals, two district judges, two justices of the peace, two municipal court judges, and two judges of county courts, statutory county courts, or statutory probate courts; and six citizen members (three of whom must be members of the State Bar of Texas, and two of whom must be citizens not licensed to practice law) appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate for overlapping six-year terms. All of the council positions are unsalaried.
During the first decade of its existence, the council was concerned with improvements in judicial procedure. Partly as a result of the council's effort, the Supreme Court was expressly authorized to make rules of civil procedure in 1939. In 1940, the Supreme Court appointed the Advisory Committee to the Supreme Court on Rules of Civil Procedure to assist it in preparing original rules and making a continuing study. Six members of the council were named to the original committee, thus transferring a portion of its original charge from the council to the advisory committee.
The council then turned its attention to other matters affecting the administration of justice, such as court organization, judicial personnel, and administrative procedure. In 1969, the council was given expanded authority to collect statistics on the criminal as well as the civil judicial system. Subpoena powers for council hearings were also authorized, and the supplying of information at the reasonable request of the council was made mandatory for court officials. The Texas Judicial Council was removed from sunset review by the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999.
(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, 3rd (1970), 10th (1999), and 11th (2001) eds.; and the Handbook of Texas Online article, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/TT/mdt7.html accessed August 24, 2006.)
The Texas Judicial Council (until 1975 named the Texas Civil Judicial Council) is the policymaking body for the state judiciary and provides continuous studies and reports on the organization and practices of the Texas judicial system. Records consist of minutes, 1967-1997, and fiscal year reports, 1961-1962, 1973-1974, of the Texas Judicial Council.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
(Identify the item and cite the series), Texas Judicial Council records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1998/240, 2005/102, 2006/396
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the the Texas Judicial Council on August 10, 1998; and by the Texas Legislative Reference Library on February 7, 2005 and August 29, 2006.
Rebecca Romanchuk, August 2006
Detailed Description of the Records