Texas Rule of Evidence 203 Interpretation

According to Texas Rule of Evidence 203, "the court, and not a jury, shall determine the laws of foreign countries." TEX. R. EVID. 203. A court may "consider any material or source, whether or not submitted by a party or admissible under the rules of evidence, including but not limited to affidavits, testimony, briefs, and treatises." Id. We review the issue de novo. Id. A number of courts have referred to rule 203 as a "hybrid" rule. See, e.g., Gardner v. Best Western Int'l, Inc., 929 S.W.2d 474, 483 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 1996, writ denied); Volkswagen, AG v. Valdez, 897 S.W.2d 458, 461 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1995, orig. proceeding). This is due, however, to the pseudo-evidentiary nature of the court's initial inquiry. See Ahumada v. Dow Chemical Co., 992 S.W.2d 555, 559 (Tex. App.-Houston[14th Dist.] 1999, pet. denied) (noting that "presentation of the law to the court resembles presentment of evidence"). Our review of the court's decision is explicitly the review of a question of law. See: TEX. R. EVID. 203 (holding that "the court's determination shall be subject to review as a ruling on a question of law"); Ahumada, 992 S.W.2d at 559 (holding that "the court ultimately decides as a matter of law" the content of the foreign law); Reading & Bates Const. Co. v. Baker Energy Resources Corp., 976 S.W.2d 702, 708 (Tex. App.-Houston[1st Dist.] 1998, pet. denied); CPS Int'l, Inc. v. Dresser Indus., Inc., 911 S.W.2d 18, 22 (Tex. App.-El Paso 1995, writ denied).