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Rule 193.4. Hearing and Ruling on Objections and Assertions of Privilege (Aug. 1998)

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(a) Hearing. Any party may at any reasonable time request a hearing on an objection or claim of privilege asserted under this rule. The party making the objection or asserting the privilege must present any evidence necessary to support the objection or privilege. The evidence may be testimony presented at the hearing or affidavits served at least seven days before the hearing or at such other reasonable time as the court permits. If the court determines that an in camera review of some or all of the requested discovery is necessary, that material or information must be segregated and produced to the court in a sealed wrapper within a reasonable time following the hearing.

(b) Ruling. To the extent the court sustains the objection or claim of privilege, the responding party has no further duty to respond to that request. To the extent the court overrules the objection or claim of privilege, the responding party must produce the request­ed material or information within 30 days after the court's ruling or at such time as the Court orders.

(c) Use of material or information if no ruling. A party need not request a ruling on that party's own objection or assertion of privilege to preserve the objec­tion or privilege, but a party may not use - at any hearing or trial - material or information withheld from discovery without timely amending or supplementing the party's response to that discovery.

Added by order of Aug. 4, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.

Prior Amendments Future Amendments
  Nov. 9, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999

Notes and Comments

Comments to 1999 change:

1. This rule imposes a duty upon parties to make a complete response to written discovery based upon all information reasonably available, subject to objections and privileges.

2. An objection to written discovery does not excuse the responding party from complying with the request to the extent no objection is made. But a party may object to a request for "all documents relevant to the lawsuit" as overly broad and not in compliance with the rule requiring specific requests for documents and refuse to comply with it entirely. See Loftin v. Martin, 776 S..W.2d 145 (Tex. 1989). A party may also object to a request for a litigation file on the ground that it is overly broad and on its face seeks only materials pro­tected by privilege. See National Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Valdez, 863 S.W.2d 458 (Tex. 1993). A party who objects to production of documents from a remote time period should produce documents from a more recent period unless that production would be burdensome and duplicative should the objection be overruled.

3. This rule governs the presentation of all privileges and work product. It dispenses with objections to written discovery requests on the basis that responsive information or materials are protected by a specific privilege from discovery. Instead, the rule requires parties to state that information or materials have been withheld and to identify the privilege upon which the party relies. The statement should not be made prophylactically, but only when specific information and materials have been withheld. The party must amend or supplement the statement if additional privileged information or material is found subsequent to the initial response. A party need not state that material created by or for lawyers for the litigation has been withheld as it can be assumed that such material will be withheld from virtually any request on the grounds of attorney-client privilege or work product.

4. Rule 193.3(d) is a new provision that allows a party to assert a claim of privilege to material or information produced inadvertently without intending to waive the privilege. The provision is commonly used in complex cases to reduce costs and risks in large document productions. The focus is on the intent to waive the privilege, not the intent to produce the material or information. A party who fails to diligently screen documents before producing them does not waive a claim of privilege. This rule is thus broader than Tex. R. Evid. 511 and overturns Granada Corp. v. First Court of Appeals, 844 S.W.2d 223 (Tex. 1992), to the extent the two conflict.

5. Any party can request a hearing in which the court will resolve issues brought up in objections or withholding statements. The party seeking to avoid discovery has the burden of proving the objection or privilege.

6. The self-authenticating provision is new. Authentication is, of course, but a condition precedent to admissibility and does not establish admissibility. See Tex. R. Evid. 901(a).

AMENDMENTS

Nov. 9, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999