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  • Brian Foley

Conroe Criminal Defense Lawyer - Rules of Evidence Series RULE 203

Rule 203 explains notice requirements for relying on foreign law. If you want to argue about some law from another country then you have to give "reasonable" notice and at least 30 days prior to the trial you have to give a copy of the law upon which you want to rely. If it is written in some other language you have to deliver an English translation to opposing counsel.


In one famous case Medellin v. Texas, a death row inmate in Texas argued that the Vienna Convention prohibited Texas from carrying out his death sentence. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Vienna Convention and then President Bush's decision to abide by its terms were not binding on the State of Texas. Presumably in the litigation Rule 203 could have been utilized.


“Nothing in the text, background, negotiating and drafting history, or practice among signatory nations suggests that the President or Senate intended the improbable result of giving the judgments of an international tribunal a higher status than that enjoyed by “many of our most fundamental constitutional protections.” Ibid.MedellÍn v. Texas, 552 U.S. 491, 523 (2008). Check out the full opinion here.


So if all else fails and your lawyer can't come up with an argument why the laws of this country cut in your favor, you can always ask that they check out international law. However, the Supreme Court is likely to rule that applying foreign law to your case was error.





Rule 203. Determining Foreign Law

(a) Raising a Foreign Law Issue. A party who intends to raise an issue about a foreign country’s law must:

(1) give reasonable notice by a pleading or other writing; and


(2) at least 30 days before trial, supply all parties a copy of any written materials or sources the

party intends to use to prove the foreign law.


(b) Translations. If the materials or sources were originally written in a language other than English, the party intending to rely on them must, at least 30 days before trial, supply all parties both a copy of the foreign language text and an English translation.


(c) Materials the Court May Consider; Notice. In determining foreign law, the court may consider any material or source, whether or not admissible. If the court considers any material or source not submitted by a party, it must give all parties notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment and submit additional materials.


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