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Dickens v. Second Court of Appeals – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Dickens v. Second Court of Appeals, 727 S.W.2d 542 (Tex. Crim. App. 1987), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals considered whether the court of appeals below improperly granted a mandamus to require the trial court to vacate a pre-trial order denying discovery by the defendant. 727 S.W.2d at 550-52.

The court of criminal appeals held that the normal avenue for a defendant to challenge a pre-trial order is through an ordinary appeal. Id. at 550.

The court expressly rejected the relator's attempted reliance on discovery cases in the civil context, noting that "If this Court allowed mandamus to be substituted for appellate review in discovery situations, the trial of cases would be slowed to a crawl, and eventually, mandamus would be substituted for the appellate process in all pretrial matters." Id. at 551.

While the court of criminal appeals recognized that in civil cases, mandamus is available to review discovery orders, the court determined that in criminal cases, the need to avoid constant interruption of criminal trials was greater than in the civil context. Id. at 551-52 & n.12.

Accordingly, the court of criminal appeals held that the court of appeals below improperly issued a writ of mandamus to compel discovery. Id. at 552.