HBA-CMT, MPM H.B. 176 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 176 By: Luna, Vilma Civil Practices 3/19/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Currently, telecommunications technology may only be used in criminal trials. For example, some counties are conducting arraignments through the use of closed-circuit telecommunications, as provided by state law. State law also permits closed-circuit television to be used in court cases in which the victim is a child. The rapidly growing changes in telecommunications technology can help expedite trial proceedings in a timely and efficient manner. House Bill 176 extends the use of telecommunications technology subject to the order of a judge to civil pretrial and trial proceedings. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 176 amends the Civil Practice and Remedies Code to provide that subject to the order of the trial or appellate judge, as applicable, a hearing of a preliminary matter, a deposition, witness testimony at trial, or any appellate proceeding may be conducted by telecommunication, including satellite transmission or closed circuit television transmission. The bill prescribes that telecommunication may be used only by a method that provides for instantaneous, recordable two-way image and sound communication among all parties to the proceeding and the court. The bill requires a court that allows a transmission to consider it accurate and include it in the record of the case, unless the court determines otherwise. The bill requires a party to a transmission that is not in court to provide equipment that is compatible with the equipment used in court and authorizes the party to record the proceedings at the party's own expense. The bill provides that a copy of a proceeding that was videotaped may be obtained from the clerk of the court on payment of a reasonable amount to cover the cost of producing the copy and that expenses incurred by a court in conducting a proceeding or recording a transmission shall be assessed and collected as court costs. EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001.