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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Montgomery County Criminal Defense Attorney - Texas Rules of Evidence Series Rule 1009

Montgomery County Criminal Defense Attorney - Brian Foley - Board Certified in Criminal Law

The final rule of the Texas Rules of Evidence is rule 1009 which relates to translating foreign language documents. It has the longest trial deadline that I'm aware of in Texas cases at 45 days. If you serve on the other party a translation and a qualified translator's sworn affidavit or unsworn declaration that sets forth the translator's qualifications and certifies that it is accurate then it will be admissible.

Subsection (b) outlines how to object. It requires specificity and a corrected translation. An objection must be served 15 days before trial. If you do not object or submit a conflicting translation then the court "MUST" admit and may not allow a party to attack the accuracy of the translation. Pretty stiff penalty. But this rule is most definitely a put up or shut up kind of rule. Here is a process for taking a document written in another language and creating multiple translated copies for presentation in court:

  1. Choose a qualified translator: Choose a professional translator who is fluent in both the original language and the target language, and who has experience translating legal documents.

  2. Translate the document: Have the translator translate the document into the target language. Ensure that the translation is accurate and faithful to the original document.

  3. Review and edit the translation: Have the translation reviewed by another translator or a language expert to check for any errors or inconsistencies. Make any necessary revisions to the translation to ensure its accuracy.

  4. Obtain a sworn affidavit or unsworn declaration from the translator: Have the translator provide a sworn affidavit or unsworn declaration certifying the accuracy of the translation. The declaration should also set forth the translator's qualifications.

  5. Make multiple copies: Make multiple copies of the translated document and the translator's affidavit or declaration. These copies will be needed for presentation to the judge and jury in court.

By following these steps, you can help ensure that the translated document will be admissible in court and that its accuracy will not be challenged. Additionally, by having multiple copies available, you can help ensure that the judge and jury will have access to the translated document during the proceedings

Rule 1009. Translating a Foreign Language Document (a) Submitting a Translation. A translation of a foreign language document is admissible if, at least 45 days before trial, the proponent serves on all parties: (1) the translation and the underlying foreign language document; and (2) a qualified translator’s affidavit or unsworn declaration that sets forth the translator’s qualifications and certifies that the translation is accurate. (b) Objection. When objecting to a translation’s accuracy, a party should specifically indicate its inaccuracies and offer an accurate translation. A party must serve the objection on all parties at least 15 days before trial. (c) Effect of Failing to Object or Submit a Conflicting Translation. If the underlying foreign language document is otherwise admissible, the court must admit—and may not allow a party to attack the accuracy of—a translation submitted under subdivision (a) unless the party has: (1) submitted a conflicting translation under subdivision (a); or (2) objected to the translation under subdivision (b). (d) Effect of Objecting or Submitting a Conflicting Translation. If conflicting translations are submitted under subdivision (a) or an objection is made under subdivision (b), the court must determine whether there is a genuine issue about the accuracy of a material part of the translation. If so, the trier of fact must resolve the issue. (e) Qualified Translator May Testify. Except for subdivision (c), this rule does not preclude a party from offering the testimony of a qualified translator to translate a foreign language document. (f) Time Limits. On a party’s motion and for good cause, the court may alter this rule’s time limits. (g) Court-Appointed Translator. If necessary, the court may appoint a qualified translator. The reasonable value of the translator’s services must be taxed as court costs.


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