State ex rel. Hilbig v. McDonald

839 S.W.2d 854 (1992)

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State ex rel. Hilbig v. McDonald

Texas Supreme Court
839 S.W.2d 854 (1992)

Facts

Lionel Bell (defendant) was indicted for aggravated sexual assault. An attorney for the minor victim and the victim’s parents (collectively, the victim) applied for disclosure of documents from the district attorney’s files to use in a potential civil suit. Judge Terry McDonald ordered that Bell’s statement to the Texas Department of Human Services be produced to the victim. The state (plaintiff) sought a writ of mandamus requiring Judge McDonald to set aside his order. The state maintained that the judge did not have authority to issue the order because the victim lacked standing to act as a party, and because discovery from the district attorney’s file was not a state constitutional or statutory right afforded to crime victims. The judge and victim maintained that a victim’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to be treated with fairness and to confer with the prosecutor entitled the victim to Bell’s statement. Bell was concerned that disclosure would waive his rights relating to the statement and that he would be denied a fair trial by any prejudicial pretrial publicity that resulted from disclosure.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Biery, J.)

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