Tarrant County is a Texas county located in north Texas officially part of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan statistical area. Informally it is part of the North Texas region (sometimes called North Central Texas). It is one half of the Dallas/Fort Worth or DFW area and a significant portion of the region referred to as the metroplex. Dallas County is the third largest county in Texas by population and the sixteenth largest county by population in the nation.
Fort Worth is the county seat of Tarrant County which includes the majority of the population and land mass of Tarrant County. The majority of the county government operates from offices in downtown Fort Worth where it operates courts, administrative buildings and other operations.
The Tarrant County government operates exclusively within the confines of Tarrant County, which is adjacent to Dallas County, Denton County, Ellis County, Johnson County, Parker County and Wise County. The head of the county government in Tarrant County is the county judge elected by county-wide vote. The primary governing body for the county is the commissioners court. It includes the county judge plus four commissioners who are elected by their respective precinct. The commissioners court does not hear lawsuits like most courts. Their responsibilities are administrative with judicial authority to hear cases transferred to the Tarrant County Courts at Law.
The commissioners court primarily deals with oversight and budgetary responsibilities within Tarrant County. They set budgets for the county entities including transportation districts and the hospital district which oversees county-level public works.
Tarrant County government also includes agencies subordinate to the commissioners court. Some agencies fall under elected officials while others receive appointments by the court. These county agencies include the district attorney, district clerk, county clerk, sheriff, constables, tax assessor-collector and treasurer.
Within Tarrant County there are also governments and government offices that do not report to the county. These include city and town governments, state representatives and senators, judges and U.S. representatives. Some of the representative and senator districts within Tarrant County include areas outside of Tarrant County.
In addition to Fort Worth there are a number of other cities within Tarrant County. Many of these communities are only partially within Tarrant County with the remainder in one or more counties. These include Arlington, Azle, Bedford, Benbrook, Blue Mound, Burleson, Colleyville, Crowley, Dalworthington Gardens, Euless, Everman, Forest Hill, Grapevine, Grand Prairie, Haltom City, Haslet, Hurst, Keller, Kennedale, Lake Worth, Mansfield, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pelican Bay, Richland Hills, River Oaks, Saginaw, Sansom Park, Southlake, Watauga, Westworth Village, White Settlement, Edgecliff Village, Flower Mound, Lakeside, Pantego, Trophy Club, Westlake, Westover Hills, Briar, Pecan Acres, Rendon, Eagle Mountain, Alliance, Avondale, Boss, Eagle Acres, Lake Crest Estates, Lake Forest and Lake Shore Estates.
Although these cities, towns and school districts are government entities within Tarrant County they are independent of the county government. They are independent governments with their own authority under state law. There is often coordination between local and county government due to the overlap of responsibilities and resources.
The county includes several overlapping judicial systems of local, county, state and federal courts. County level courts in Tarrant County include the civil and criminal County Courts at Law, statutory probate courts and justice of the peace courts. Tarrant County is also home to the Tarrant County District Courts that hear both civil and criminal cases. It is also home to the Second Court of Appeals of Texas. It hears appeals from county and district courts within the county (and some surrounding counties). Cities within Tarrant County operate their own municipal courts that hear certain misdemeanors and city ordinance violations within city limits. Tarrant County is also within the U.S. Northern District of Texas. The Northern District has its own division of federal district courts with jurisdiction over most civil and criminal cases under federal law.