Law & the Media in Texas — Federal State Cases

The Federal Process

State Cases in Federal Courts

In criminal cases originating in state court, a defendant may believe his rights under the U. S. constitution have been violated and may make this the basis of an appeal.

Normally such an appeal would proceed through the state appellate process and then into the federal judicial structure.

In Texas such an appeal would be before the Court of Criminal Appeals, the final step in the state criminal appeals process. If the defendant does not find satisfaction there, he or she may appeal to federal court.

The procedure can be long, time-consuming and costly. But many times, as significant cases indicate, the defendant is successful.

Certain types of civil cases may go on appeal through the state system to the U.S. Supreme Court. Libel is one example.

One method used to shortcut the long, drawn-out procedure involves making applications for a writ of certiorari. When granted by a higher court the writ commands judges or officers of inferior courts to accumulate records and certify proceedings for review.

All federal appeals from state cases involving criminal matters are habaes corpus appeals – contentions by the defendant that the state is violating his or her federal constitutional rights.


Among the web sites offering information on the federal courts are the Administrative Office of the United States Courts at and the Federal Judicial Center at Several law schools have web sites with extensive information about the federal court system. Among them are Villanova, Emory and Georgetown.