Going to Court in Texas: Riding the Circuit, 1842-1861


Going to Court in Texas, drawn from original sources, depicts the early days of the practice of law in Texas through the eyes of one of its ablest practitioners, Charles DeMorse. DeMorse was a lawyer from New York who came to Texas in 1836 to fight in the War for Independence and never left. For forty-six years, he practiced law and was the owner and editor of The Northern Standard, a weekly newspaper that would become the second largest in circulation in Texas. At that time in Texas, the populations of individual counties were never large enough to require a resident judge or bar. Instead, judges, the prosecuting attorney and the rest of the trial bar (attorney DeMorse among them), would “ride the circuit” twice annually, going from county to county within their district, and spending a week or more in each county seat trying cases. Journalist DeMorse, in his reports home to the readers of The Standard described the practice of law in those first days in courthouses of all descriptions, including under trees; the treks from county seat to county seat, often through barely tamed country and in difficult weather; his companion lawyers and judges; the festivities surrounding “Court Week” in each town; the wondrous people and things encountered en route; and the impending War Between the States. This is a selection of those reports. An appendix, endnotes and indices enhance the text.

Richard B. Marrin

2007, 5½x8½, paper, index, 168 pp.

ISBN: 9780788442995