The Texas Supreme Court approved an order Wednesday adopting revised evidence rules, triggering a comment period that ends Feb. 28.
The revisions to the Texas Rules of Evidence are intended to mirror 2011 amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence, with the goal of making the rules easier to understand, according to the court order.
Final approval of the restyled rules will be effective April 1.
“With clearer language and a better format, the rules of evidence should be much easier for trial lawyers and judges to use,” Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht said in a statement. “The many people who worked on this project built on the restyled federal rules, adapted them to Texas but with the objective of keeping our rules as consistent as possible with the federal rules and without changing Texas evidence law.”
Many of the revisions result from formatting changes, but the restyled rules will keep the same numbers to reduce the effect on research, according to the court order. Substantive changes have been made in two rules:
- Amendments to Rule 511 align Texas law with Federal Rule of Evidence 502 on waiving privilege by voluntary disclosure.
- Amendments to Rule 613 retain the requirement that a witness be given an opportunity to explain or deny (a) a prior inconsistent statement or (b) circumstances or a statement showing bias or interest, but the requirement is no longer part of the foundation that an examining attorney must lay before introducing extrinsic evidence of the statement or its circumstances.
Martha Newton, the court’s rules attorney who led the project, credited law Professor Steven Goode, an evidence expert at the University of Texas, for drafting the rules changes with help from the State Bar of Texas Administration of Rules of Evidence Committee and the Supreme Court Advisory Committee. The combined effort drew seasoned trial lawyers and judges in several drafting and reviewing stages.
“Their product was exceptional,” Newton said in a statement provided by the court, “and the product of several years of hard work.”
Read the full order here.