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  • Brian Foley

Conroe Criminal Defense Lawyer - Texas Rules of Evidence Series RULE 501

Texas Rule of Evidence 501 beings the 500 series which are the Rules of Privileges. Legal Privileges that is. You know what legal privileges are? Its rules designed to hide the truth. That's right, the inventors of the rules believe (and probably you too) that at some point or another we ought to draw a line in the sand and say okay we want the truth to come out but not that much. For Example the 5th amendment to the United States Constitution says that you do not have to be a witness against yourself. More truth would likely come out if that rule were not in place but it is also a basic tenant of our legal system and is one of the most fundamental rules of fairness that the Texas and United States Constitution proscribes.


Here is a preview of some of the priveleges that the 500 series of rules will cover.

  • Medical Privilege to confidentiality

  • Marital Privilege to confidentiality

  • Attorney Client Privilege

The 500 series starts with rule 501.

Rule 501 doesn't actually announce any privileges in fact it announces that absolute no privileges other than the ones that are about to be announced or that may be found in statutes and the Constitutions of Texas and the United States are to be recognized.


The rules of evidence used to be broken up into civil and criminal rules of evidence and the wording of former rules were similar but it has caused some confusion. A Trial court may not permit a party to assert a privilege outside of the rules even in the trial court's discretion. Great Nat'l Life Ins. Co. v. Davidson, 708 S.W.2d 476, 478 (Tex. App. -- Dallas 1986). However the attorney work product doctrine has been specifically approved by the courts as a privilege even though it is not contained specifically within the wording of the remaining 500 series rules other than in Rule 511 to describe how it can be preserved if inadvertently waived. Oyster Creek Fin. Corp. v. Richwood Invs. II, Inc., 957 S.W.2d 640, 645 (Tex. App. -- Amarillo 1997, pet. denied).


There is also no "family" or "parent - child" privilege even there is a spousal privilege. Port v. Heard, 764 F.2d 423, 428-33 (5th Cir. 1985).


If trying to assert a privilege only a minimal showing of evidence is required by the party which wishes to assert the privilege and the judge will make an in camera review of the materials claimed to be privileged, the opposing party may rebut with evidence of their own but the determination of the trial judge where the evidence is disputed will be reviewed on an abuse of discretion standard. In re E.I. DuPont, 136 S.W.3d 218 (Tex. 2004).



Rule 501. Privileges in General

Unless a Constitution, a statute, or these or other rules prescribed under statutory authority provide otherwise, no person has a privilege to:

(a) refuse to be a witness;

(b) refuse to disclose any matter;

(c) refuse to produce any object or writing; or (d) prevent another from being a witness, disclosing any matter, or producing any object or writing.


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