TDCAA TDCAA Community Appellate Viewing Exhibits in the possession of the District Clerk that were introduced at trial
I was told this week by our district clerk’s office that a trial court order is now always required to view exhibits in the possession of the district clerk’s office. I can’t find anything in the TRAPs that would prevent this. The closest thing I could find was Rule 12.4, but that’s really directed at the appellate court’s clerk.
Do other district clerks offices require a court order to view exhibits admitted at trial?
I want to view a DVD of a confession that was introduced at trial. I’ve now spent 45 minutes drafting a motion and court order and I have a three-day wait for a judge’s signature.
It seems like either (1) DVDs should be attached to the Reporter’s Record, or (2) the district clerk should make them available for viewing upon request.
This was typically the way it was done in Dallas when I was there. I think it was mostly to try and discourage "gadfly" types who wanted to see murder evidence and to make sure self-proclaimed "experts" weren't tampering with stuff.
In Collin County, our court reporters are very good about copying things like DVDs and attaching them to the record.
What is the rationale for the hurdle? It is one thing to deny members of the public access, quite another to deny counsel of record access.
I suppose you could have the administrative judge issue a blanket order granting counsel access in all post-conviction matters, or submit a boilerplate motion requesting access in every appeal as soon as the NOA is filed. Alternatively, perhaps a motion in the COA would take care of the problem?
I'm thinking about proposing an addition to the TRAPs. Kind of a long shot I know.
It's weird that there's nothing in the TRAPs about access to the record by the parties on appeal -- just imagine if the trial court denied my motion to look at the DVD, it would be nearly impossible to respond to the point of error attacking the voluntariness of the confession.
I don't mind filing a motion and serving on opposing counsel. I would like to know if the other side is digging stuff out and looking at it. If the item in question is something that can be damaged or altered, I would like the opportunity to have an investigator or crime scene tech there to watch the other side. This is how we did things on one of my more controversial cases in Dallas.
The DVD thing is completely different to me--that is something that can't really be altered, just damaged or destroyed. So maybe you make two rules, depending on the nature of the evidence in question?
DWI tapes were always a big problem for me in Dallas. The prosecutor would put the original tape in evidence, and I couldn't see it on appeal without getting it back from the COA, which was very loathe to grant access. I tried for several years to make sure we offered a copy rather than the original...
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