Texas Rules of Evidence 401 Interpretation

In Rogers v. State, 991 S.W.2d 263, 265 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999), the court of criminal appeals explained that rule 401 was "helpful" in determining what evidence is "relevant" under article 37.07 section 3(a)(1) but noted that rule 401's definition of "relevant" was not a "perfect fit" in the sentencing context. TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 37.07 3(a)(1); TEX. R. EVID. 401. As the court explained in Miller-El v. State, 782 S.W.2d 892, 895-96 (Tex. Crim. App. 1990): Admissibility of evidence at the punishment phase of a non-capital felony offense is a function of policy rather than relevancy. This is so because by and large there are no discreet factual issues at the punishment stage. There are simply no distinct "facts . . . of consequence" that proffered evidence can be said to make more or less likely to exist. Rather, "deciding what punishment to assess is a normative process, not intrinsically factbound." Based on this reasoning, the Rogers court concluded: "What is relevant . . . is a question of what is helpful to the jury in determining the appropriate sentence for a particular defendant in a particular case." Rogers, 991 S.W.2d at 265.