As with other appeals, a writ of error points out a legal flaw in the proceeding in the trial court or in the decision of the lower appellate court. The application for writ of error makes specific reference to a portion or portions of the record in which the error or errors were committed. A brief usually accompanies the application. Seldom are the parties allowed or required to argue orally in support of the application. Both the brief and the application for writ of error or certiorari must be in the form prescribed by the Court.
Only one out of every six or seven applications for a writ is granted. It takes the concurrence of at least three justices before a writ of error will be granted. Even if there is an error in the record, it must be a material error before the lower court's judgment will be overturned. For example, if the defendant's attorney referred to the plaintiff as an incorrigible criminal in jury argument in the trial court, this would constitute an error. But if the trial judge had instructed the jury to disregard the defense attorney's remark, the Supreme Court might well determine that the error did not influence the jury's decision and therefore was "harmless".
Composition of the Court: Like the Supreme Court of the United States, the Texas Supreme Court is composed of one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. It usually takes five justices to constitute a quorum and five concurring justices to render a decision. In some circumstances, however, the court may sit in sections to hear argument and consider other matters.