Legal Document Translation and Procedural Rules for Applying Mexican Law in Texas Courts

We’ve blogged about legal translation and foreign language document translations and using foreign law as evidence . We also blogged about the probative value of foreign language Website evidence. Texas courts have a long history of applying Mexican law in many of their cases. But proper procedural and evidentiary rules must be followed, especially when introducing translated documents.

A motion to take judicial notice of Mexican law is the correct pleading. The Texas Rules of Evidence 203 provides the requirement that “A party who intends to raise an issue concerning the law of a foreign country shall give notice in the pleadings or other reasonable written notice, and at least 30 days prior to the date of trial such party shall furnish all parties copies of any written materials or sources that the party intends to use as proof of the foreign law.” Furthermore, if the materials or sources are originally written in a language other than English, “the party intending to rely upon them shall furnish all parties both a copy of the foreign language text and an English translation.”

Rule 203 appears simple enough, but the Texas Appellate Court (Corpus Christi) made the first decision to apply a new rule in the Texas Rules of Evidence in 2000. It ruled In re Estates of Garcia-Chapa that to preserve a choice of law issue for appeal, where the foreign law is that of a foreign country, any foreign language translation of a foreign document must be filed and served on all parties 45 days prior to trial.

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