The 155th Judicial District Court of Texas was established to be the primary state trial court of general jurisdiction, serving the counties of Austin, Fayette and Waller. The Legislature determines the geographical area of each district court based on population size, given that each of the 254 counties in Texas must be served by at least one district court. Aside from district courts like the 155th District Court serving more than one county, there are densely populated counties that are served by more than one district court and thus may transfer cases to other district courts of the same county. The district court is headed by the district judge, has original and exclusive jurisdiction on all cases not handled by the lower courts, as well as concurrent jurisdiction the constitutional and statutory county courts over respective cases.
AUSTIN COUNTY – 155TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF TEXAS
The 155th District Court has the below original jurisdictions:
• Felony criminal cases
• Misdemeanors regarding official misconduct
• Civil cases with damage claims or amounts of controversy exceeding $100,000.00
• Divorce cases
• Land title and land liens cases
• Contesting of elections
• Slander and defamation suits
• Penalties, forfeitures, and escheat matters on behalf of the State
• All other matters not handled by the lower courts (county courts, county courts at law, municipal and justice courts)
There are concurrent jurisdictions by the 155th District Court with the constitutional county courts (Austin, Fayette, Waller) and statutory county courts at law (Austin, Waller), which the district court may hear if they are too complex at county level:
• Civil cases normally handled by county courts and county courts at law with claims exceeding $500.00 but not greater than $100,000.00
• Juvenile cases
• Contested matters on probate cases that were initially heard in county courts
Aside from hearing above mentioned cases, a district court may also hear and determine motions, such as new trial motions, injunction petitions, applications for receiver appointment, interventions, abatement pleas, dilatory pleas, and all other preliminary matters and proceedings.
Additionally, there are certain powers of district courts such as issuance of writs of habeas corpus (for trial of arrested individuals) and all other court orders such as mandamus (for rendering official duty), injunction (for required or prohibited action), certiorari (for case records from lower courts), supersedeas (for suspension of judicial proceedings), garnishment (for collecting debt), sequestration or attachment (for seizure of property), and all other writs that may be necessary to enforce judicial decisions. District courts also have appellate jurisdiction with, and practice general supervision and control over its covered commissioners courts, such as appointing jury commissioners who would select grand and petit jurors.
The 155th District Court is located in the city of La Grange, Fayette County. Below are the current district court dockets:
Ancillary dates: 9:00 AM Criminal, Civil; 10:00 AM Uncontested; 1:00 PM Tax suits; 1:15 PM Civil
Civil pre-trial dates: 1:15 PM
Criminal pre-trial dates: 9:00 AM
Criminal trial dates: 9:00 AM
Civil trial dates: 9:00 AM
A qualified district judge must be at least 25 years old, must be a licensed lawyer in the state of the involved district for at least four years, and have resided and actively practiced law in the said district, prior to election or appointment. Upon election or appointment as district judge, he/she may not engage in private law practice within the four years of service term. Moreover, the mandated annual salary of a district judge is fixed by the Legislature, plus additional compensation paid by its served counties and special allowances from its commissioners courts. In case of sudden vacancy in the district judge seat, this shall be filled by the state governor until the next general election.
The current 155th Distrcict Court Judge is Hon. Jeff R. Steinhauser, a native of Fayette County. He attended college at the University of Texas and finished Bachelor of Arts in Government, and then earned his law degree from the University of Houston. He used to hold office in Flatonia, and was also certified as Attorney Ad Litem by the State Bar of Texas.
A credit card or breach of contract case, or any civil case that is filed by a complainant (a credit card collection agency, a contract co-signatory, an owed merchant, etc.) in a constitutional county court (Austin County Courthouse) or a statutory county court (Austin County Court at Law) if amount of controversy is greater than $500 but less than $100,000. Depending on the extent of complexity of the same range of amount, or for claims above $100,000, these types of cases may be filed instead with the district court (155th Judicial District Court of Texas). The notified defendant would then sign a form of dispute or admittance, courtesy of the County Clerk for county court cases or District Clerk for district court cases. For responses of dispute, several court procedures would occur, prior to a necessary trial that would be scheduled in the respective county or district court.
For civil claims below $500, a Small Claims case should only be filed in justice courts, which are lower than the district and county courts.