Best Evidence Rule Copies (Duplicates) In Texas

The court of criminal appeals analyzed the underpinnings of the best evidence rule in light of modern realities in Englund v. State, 946 S.W.2d 64, 69 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). While maintaining that duplicates are not absolutely admissible in place of originals, the court pointed out that the two fears that have historically prevented universal use of copies as the equivalent of originals are fear of inaccuracy in the reproduction process and the possibility of fraud. Id. While noting that modern reproduction methods have mostly alleviated the first problem, the court pointed out that the second fear still has significance in that sometimes inspecting the original may afford the opponent valuable means of objecting to admissibility or arguing lack of probative force because the original may contain, and the copy may lack, such features of handwriting, paper, and the like. Id. The court stated that when circumstances assuage those fears, though, duplicates are admissible. Id. Warning against wooden application of the best evidence rule when no genuine dispute is raised concerning the authenticity of the document, the court upheld admission of a faxed copy of a certified copy of a public record because of the indicia of authenticity present in the circumstances of that case. Id. at 71. We find that likewise, in this case, the appellant raised no genuine dispute regarding the authenticity of the document and rather seeks "wooden" application of the best evidence rule. Accord Hood v. State, 944 S.W.2d 743, 747 (Tex. App.--Amarillo 1997, no pet.) (stating that when the only concern is with getting the words or contents of the document before the fact finder and as long as no one legitimately questions authenticity or establishes unfairness, a duplicate of the original serves as well as the original). The trial court has broad discretion in determining the admissibility of evidence, and it will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of discretion. Allridge v. State, 850 S.W.2d 471, 472 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991); Almaguer v. State, 960 S.W.2d 172, 173 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 1997, no pet.).