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Court of Criminal Appeals
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is comprised of a Presiding Judge and eight justices, elected in statewide partisan elections. The Court has discretion about which cases it will hear, except that it must hear criminal cases involving the death penalty and petitions for post conviction habeas corpus relief. The mandatory workload represents about 76% of the court's work and results in this court having the heaviest caseload of any appellate court in the United States.
Some controversy exists surrounding the appointment of attorneys for indigent defendants, such appointments being made by trial and appellate. Texas is the largest jurisdiction in the country that uses the appointment of private attorneys, rather than a public defender system, for indigent defendants. The Court of Criminal Appeals has been criticized for appointing substandard counsel in capital cases.
The Court has been entirely Republican for several election cycles.
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