July-August 2015

No, it’s not just your ­imagination; the Texas Rules of Evidence do look different

Melissa Hervey

Assistant District ­Attorney in ­Harris ­County

In its order, “Final Approval of Amendments to the Texas Rules of Evidence,” dated March 12, 2015, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals explained that the rules were amended and generally reformatted for two reasons. First, to “make the rules more easily understood and to make the style and terminology consistent throughout.” Second, to be as consistent as possible with the Federal Rules of Evidence—which were similarly restyled and amended, effective December 1, 2011—while avoiding major substantive change in Texas evidence law.

What substantive ­amendments were made to the rules?
Only a few of the Texas Rules of Evidence have been substantively amended. First, intended to align Texas evidentiary law regarding the waiver of a privilege by voluntary disclosure with Federal Rule of Evidence 502—concerning the attorney-client privilege, work-product privilege, and limitations on waivers of those privileges—Texas Rule of Evidence 511 was substantively amended as shown in the PDF below. (To make the changes easier to see, the previous versions of the rules are in white boxes while the current, amended versions are in purple. The fonts are also different.)