Monday, March 2, 2009

New policy on offense reports in Harris County

This morning, at a few minutes past nine 0'clock, something happened to me in Harris County that had not happened before -- I was given my very own copy of an offense report.

In exchange for not having to take notes verbatim from the report, I had to sign a confidentiality agreement, the wording of which follows:


The State of Texas files this Confidentiality Agreement in the above-styled case wherein counsel of record for the defendant agrees as follows:

I, _____, hereby agree, individually and on behalf of my client, to the following with respect to the State's disclosure of information, documents, or items in the above-referenced cause:
  • That I and any experts or qualified staff or consultants acting on my behalf or my client's behalf under my direction/supervision, agree to use any documents and/or items from the State's file solely for the purpose of defending against the charges in the above-captioned case and for no other purpose.
  • Any items provided to me, including copies of police reports, will not be disseminated to the media, to the defendant, to the defendant's family or friends, or to any other person, except defense experts, qualified legal staff, or legal consultants acting on my behalf or my client's behalf and under my direction/supervision.
  • The access I am provided to the State's file and/or items therein does not constitute a voluntary disclosure ro waiver by the State under the Texas Public Information Act.
  • A defense attorney who acts in violation of this discovery policy may be denied copies of police offense reports and/or acess to the State's files.
Now, while I think the prohibition against the citizen accused viewing the offense report is onerous, the new policy is a step in the right direction. To Ms. Lykos' credit, although it took two months to implement, by providing counsel with copies of offense reports, she fulfilled one of her campaign promises.

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