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Courts are state and federal government institutions with the authority to decide legal disputes and administer justice under the law in civil, criminal, and administrative matters. Courts are generally given this authority under the relevant state or federal constitution, and the relevant state or federal statutes. Courts are generally staffed by (1) one judge (in trial courts) or a panel of judges (in appellate courts) who interpret and apply the law; (2) support staff members that may include administrators (clerks); (3) a court reporter to record court proceedings; and (4) a bailiff to provide security.

The room in which court proceedings are conducted is known as the courtroom, and the building that includes the courtroom is known as the courthouse. The term “the court” may be used to refer to the judge or judges who are presiding over court proceedings. The judges in a state or federal court system are collectively known as the judiciary.

In Texas, courts operate at both the state and federal levels to resolve legal disputes and uphold justice in civil, criminal, and administrative cases. The authority of these courts is derived from the Texas Constitution and state statutes, as well as the U.S. Constitution and federal laws for federal courts. Texas state courts are organized into several levels, including local trial courts (such as Justice of the Peace Courts and Municipal Courts), county-level trial courts, district courts, appellate courts (Courts of Appeals), and two courts of last resort: the Texas Supreme Court for civil matters, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for criminal matters. Federal courts in Texas include U.S. District Courts, U.S. Bankruptcy Courts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Typically, a single judge presides over trial court proceedings, while appellate matters are heard by a panel of judges. Courtrooms, located within courthouses, are the spaces where judicial proceedings occur, and they are supported by staff such as clerks, court reporters, and bailiffs. The term 'the court' can refer to the presiding judge or panel of judges, and together, these judges constitute the judiciary.

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