The office of the District Clerk has been included in every Texas Constitution since the Republic of Texas. The 1876 Constitution states that "there shall be a clerk for the District Court of each county, who shall be elected by the qualified voters for the State and county officers, and who shall hold his office for two years, subject to removal by information, or by indictment of a grand jury, and conviction by a petit jury. In cases of vacancy the judge of the District Court shall have the power to appoint a clerk, who shall hold until the office can be filled by election." A 1954 constitutional amendment changed the term of office to four years. The District Clerk is custodian of all records of cases heard in the District Courts, the principal trial courts in Texas. Even though District Courts are state offices, they have become an integral part of county government. The District Courts hear many types of cases including felony criminal, family, juvenile, delinquent tax and greater value civil cases. The District Clerk is the official recorder, registrar and custodian of all court pleadings, instruments and papers that are part of any district court case. The primary role of the District Clerk’s office is supporting the district court system. Depending on the makeup of the judicial districts in a county, a District Clerk may serve one or more District Courts whose districts include the Clerk’s county. In Travis County, the District Clerk serves ten civil District Courts and seven criminal District Courts. After a court case is filed, the District Clerk may be requested by an attorney or directed by court order to issue certain documents. Such documents may include a citation to notify a party that a case was filed, a warrant to have someone arrested, a protective order to keep someone from harm, a writ to garnish wages, an order to sell property, or an execution to have someone put to death. Any payable fees for processing these documents also are collected by the clerk’s office. These fees are then distributed to the proper state and local agencies on a monthly basis. The district clerk performs all of these duties from the time a case is filed through disposition, appeal and ancillary proceedings that may occur for many years after judgment. Other duties of the District Clerk include indexing and securing all court records, recording all court verdicts, collecting filing fees, and handling funds held in litigation and money awarded to minors. The District Clerk is also in charge of the jury selection process and acts as a liaison between the jurors, courts and employers. This responsibility includes summoning, selecting, swearing and impaneling both petit and grand juries for the District Courts. The Travis County District Clerk coordinates all jury matters for the county as well as the City of Austin. A significant number of miscellaneous duties are also assigned to this office. These include accepting passport applications in counties with no local passport agency, taking depositions of witnesses, and administering oaths and affirmations. According to statutory requirements, the District Clerk also gathers data and reports to many state and local agencies. This extensive reporting assists the county, the state and the Legislature in determining the proper operation of the courts, the effectiveness of the statutes, and the need for changes.
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Scope and Contents Records of the District Courts, the principal trial courts in the State of Texas, including early civil and criminal court records (dockets, case papers and minutes), multi-court records, records of juries and grand juries, naturalization records, business and professional records, financial records, and reports.