HBA-MPM, CMT C.S.H.B. 176 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.H.B. 176 By: Luna, Vilma Civil Practices 4/11/2001 Committee Report (Substituted) 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 electronic communication technology can help expedite trial proceedings in a timely and efficient manner. C.S.H.B. 176 extends the use of electronic communication technology for certain civil proceedings subject to the order of a judge. 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 C.S.H.B. 176 amends the Civil Practice and Remedies Code to provide that subject to the order of the trial judge, a hearing of a preliminary matter, a deposition, or witness testimony at trial may be conducted by electronic means, including satellite transmission, closed circuit television transmission, or any other method of two-way electronic communication available to the parties, approved by the court, and capable of visually and audibly recording the proceedings. The bill provides that witness testimony at trial may be conducted by electronic means only if the witness is deposed before the trial begins. 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 also requires a party requesting a deposition to identify the location from which the deposition will be taken and any electronic means with which the deposition will be taken. A party is authorized to participate in the deposition at the identified location or another location using the same electronic means used by the requesting party. The bill provides that a copy of a videotaped proceeding 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. COMPARISON OF ORIGINAL TO SUBSTITUTE C.S.H.B. 176 differs from the original bill by specifying that the bill pertains to the use of electronic communication equipment rather than telecommunication equipment in certain civil pretrial and trial proceedings. The substitute removes the provision that allows use of electronic communication equipment in appellate proceedings. The substitute expands the means by which the electronic communication may take place in civil trial proceedings to include any other method of two-way communication available to the parties, approved by the court, and capable of visually and audibly recording the proceedings. The substitute removes the provision in the original that authorized telecommunication to 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 substitute specifies that witness testimony at trial may be conducted by electronic means only after the witness is deposed. The substitute requires a party to a transmission that is not in court to provide any equipment that is compatible with that used in court. The substitute requires a party requesting a deposition to identify the location from which the deposition will take place and the electronic means with which it will be taken. The substitute also authorizes a party to participate in a deposition at the identified location or from another location using the same electronic means as the requesting party.