Case files, 1840-2004, 13,343.25 cubic ft. (paper, digital)
Scope and Content
The Texas Supreme Court has final appellate jurisdiction in most civil and juvenile cases. Records are case files of the Texas Supreme Court dating 1840-2004. The files consist of two distinct groups of files, the circuit court-era or M files, 1840-1892, and case files from 1893-2004. As of 2017, case files for 2005 forward are held by the Texas Supreme Court. Types of materials present in these case files include original petitions (briefs, appeals), original indictments (criminal cases only for the early years), transcripts of proceedings from the district court, bills of exception, agreements, demurrer and answer, supplemental answers, statements of facts, testimony, judgments, motions, petitions and/or bonds for writ of error, citations in error, assignments of error, sheriffs’ returns, certifications of costs, waivers of service, precepts, motions for rehearing, applications for extensions of time, certification of costs, and opinions of the lower court.
Case files contain the most thorough documentation of the cases heard before the court. A case before the Supreme Court begins as an application which lists a cause of action as to why the court should hear the case. The most common cause of action is for a writ of error. Other causes of action include writs of mandamus, writs of habeas corpus, a certified question, and a direct appeal from a lower court when the Supreme Court has direct jurisdiction. The file dockets in the Dockets series list the cause of action for each application. Once the court grants or accepts an application, that application becomes a case.
Case files presently held by the Texas State Archives are the M case files (1840-1892), No prefix case files (1892-1943), A case files (1944-1966), B case files (1967-1980), C case files (1981-1990), D case files (1991-1993), and 94 through 04 case files (1994-2004). Access to the cases is through their case number. If the case number is not known, alphabetical access to the parties in the cases is available using card file and volume indexes and the name indexes in the dockets. See the Indexes and Registers and Dockets series for more information as there are a variety of indexes and dockets. Cases in oversize boxes, misfile boxes, and other boxes of separated case files are listed in the folder inventory adjacent to the box that contains the bulk of the case. In a few instances, the case may be present only in an oversize, misfile, or separated box. Researchers should request all boxes listed as containing the number of the case file they are seeking.
A portion of the M case files described in this series have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.
The folder inventories for all case files subseries except the M case files were removed from this finding aid and split into six additional finding aids due to the size of the Case files series. Click on the following links to access the case files finding aids:
- Texas Supreme Court no prefix case files, 1893-1943
- Texas Supreme Court A case files, 1944-1966
- Texas Supreme Court B case files, 1967-1980
- Texas Supreme Court C case files, 1981-1990
- Texas Supreme Court D case files, 1991-1993
- Texas Supreme Court 94 through 04 case files, 1994-2004
(Identify the item and cite the subseries), Case files, Texas Supreme Court records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1983/056, 1984/013, 1985/030, 1985/103, 1988/134, 1989/160, 1991/154, 1996/010, 2008/126, 2008/127, 2008/132, 2008/162, 2009/062, 2009/114, 2010/116, 2010/132, 2010/133, 2010/134, 2010/135, 2011/036, 2011/278, 2012/029, 2012/038, 2012/093, 2012/130, 2012/135, 2012/148, 2014/143, 2015/040, 2015/085, 2015/132, 2015/137, 2015/173, 2016/146, 2016/150, 2016/154, 2016/157, 2016/158, 2016/159, 2016/160, 2017/002, 2017/121
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Supreme Court on November 22, 1982; September 6, 1983; November 1, 1984; April 15, 1985; June 19, 1989; May 10, 1991; November 24, 2008; March 14, 2011; February 28, 2012; October 13, 2014; and January 23, 2015; by the Texas Historical Commission on May 4, 1988; by Dorothy Sloan on October 18, 1995; by Tammy Kubecka on April 28, 2005; and March 18, 2015; by Peter Luke on May 25, 2005; and November 27, 2011; by the Heritage Auction Galleries on December 19, 2007; by the Texas Attorney General’s Office on June 23, 2008; July 1, 2010; and September 2, 2016; by the Texas Attorney General’s Office from Heritage Auction Galleries on March 11, 2009; by Maria McPhail via Heritage Auction Galleries on March 29, 2010; by the Texas Attorney General’s Office from Early American History Auctions on October 2, 2009; by the Texas Attorney General’s Office from Danny Reich on August 2, 2010; by the Texas Attorney General’s Office from the Gettysburg Quartermaster on August 17, 2010; by Rolando Gallo on October 8, 2010; by Ed Hoffman on October 26, 2011; by RR Auction on November 14, 2011; by Sherry Evans on December 5, 2011; by Carl G. Horkowitz on March 23, 2012; by Mark E. Mitchell on August 1, 2014; by Richard D. Worthington on March 30, 2015; by James H. Twelmeyer on April 27, 2015; by Diana Faust via the Texas Supreme Court on May 12, 2016; by Ian Brabner on May 26, 2016; by James Cummins on June 2, 2016; by Jared Gendron on June 13, 2016; and by Tyler Ribitzki via the Texas Attorney General’s Office on June 2, 2017.
Restrictions on Access
Case files may possibly contain documents sealed by the court, and are therefore excepted from public disclosure by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 76A. When a researcher requests a case, the file will be reviewed by an archivist in order to remove sealed documents. The researcher will be informed that sealed documents have been removed from the file, and it will then be up to the researcher to obtain permission from the original court to access the documents.
Case files may possibly also contain personal information of jurors and prospective jurors. According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 35.29, information collected by the court or by a prosecuting attorney during the jury selection process about a person who serves as a juror, including the juror’s home address, home telephone number, social security number, driver’s license number, and other personal information, is confidential and may not be disclosed by the court, the prosecuting attorney, the defense counsel, or any court personnel except on application by a party in the trial or on application by a bona fide member of the news media acting in such capacity to the court in which the person is serving or did serve as a juror. On a showing of good cause, the court shall permit disclosure of the information sought. (Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 371, § 1, effective September 1, 1993). The Court of Criminal Appeals has verified that juror information is to be withheld from the public according to the statute cited above. Therefore, when a case is requested, an archivist will review the case to ascertain whether or not juror information is present. If such information is found, the researcher will be informed and the documents will be removed from the file. If an individual wishes to access juror information, they will have to obtain permission from the original court. Because the judiciary is not covered by the Texas Public Information Act, the Archives cannot estimate how long it will take the court to respond to a request.
Rarely, case files may possibly contain material not related to the case, such as attorney’s notes about another case. Before a researcher is granted access to a case, an archivist will review the files and remove all such materials. The researcher will be informed if materials are removed. If the researcher wishes to access the documents, the Archives will contact the court to determine the appropriate course of action on a case-by-case basis. Because the judiciary is not covered by the Texas Public Information Act, the Archives cannot estimate how long it will take the court to respond to a request.