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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: The petitioner alleges that he has been convicted of a criminal offense and imprisoned in the Institutional Division of the Department of Criminal Justice. He petitioned this court for a writ of mandamus compelling the respondent judge to appoint counsel for him on his motion for forensic DNA testing. At the time that he alleges that he filed his motion, a statute required the convicting court to appoint counsel. Mandamus may lie to compel a district judge to follow the statute. The threshold question is whether this court should be a court of first resort for such original actions for a writ of mandamus in criminal-law matters. HOLDING: The court denies leave to file the petition for a writ of mandamus, without prejudice to the filing of such a petition in the court of appeals. The Texas Constitution gives the courts of appeals the general appellate jurisdiction and “such other jurisdiction, original and appellate, as may be prescribed by law.” As to mandamus, the law before 1983 gave the courts of appeals mandamus jurisdiction and authority in certain election matters, and authority to issue the writ of mandamus to protect its appellate jurisdiction or to compel a judge of the district or county court to proceed to trial and judgment in a cause. Otherwise the “Court of Civil Appeals ha[d] no power to mandamus the district court.” Crofts v. Eighth Court of Appeals, 362 S.W.2d 101 (Tex. 1962) In 1983, shortly after the courts of appeals were given jurisdiction of appeals in criminal cases, an act of the legislature expanded their mandamus jurisdiction. It gave them general mandamus authority to enforce their jurisdictions, and general mandamus authority against district and county judges in their districts. This court held in 1987 that the 1983 act gave the courts of appeals mandamus jurisdiction in criminal law matters that is concurrent with this court’s jurisdiction. Discretionary review of a court of appeals’ decision to issue a writ of mandamus is not authorized, but this court may issue its writ of mandamus to overturn a court of appeals’ mandamus decision. In civil matters the general requirement for original proceedings in the Supreme Court is, “If the Supreme Court and the courts of appeals have concurrent jurisdiction, the petition must be presented first to the court of appeals unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.” Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 52.3(e). That requirement is congruent with the policies that underlie the Constitution and the statutes, which make the courts of appeals the first resource for appeal from the district and county courts. The same requirement should apply in criminal cases as well. The court holds that when a court of appeals and this court have concurrent original jurisdiction of a petition for a writ of mandamus against the judge of a district or county court, the petition should be presented first to the court of appeals unless there is a compelling reason not to do so. OPINION: Per curiam.

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