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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:At the conclusion of a police officer’s in-court testimony, the state asked the trial court to take the jurors out to the court’s parking lot so that they could watch the officer demonstrate how he searched his patrol car on the evening of appellant’s arrest. The trial court granted the state’s request over the appellant’s objection. The jury later found appellant guilty as charged in the indictment. On direct appeal, the appellant argued that “the trial court in this case did not merely abuse its discretion in allowing the jury view . . . it had no discretion at all to allow it.” The state argued in response that what the trial court permitted in this case was not a true “jury view” but rather merely a demonstration because the jury was not taken to see the actual crime scene. According to the state, “[a] jury view could have only occurred in this case if the jury was taken over to the Bryan Police Department and allowed to view the [patrol] car while in the sally port [where Alvarez conducted the second search and found the cocaine] and while [Alvarez] testified exactly where the cocaine was found.” The state also argued, in the alternative, that even if what the trial court permitted was considered a jury view, “jury views are within the discretion of the trial court.” On May 8, 2003, the court of appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Although the court of appeals agreed with appellant that what the trial court permitted in this case was a true jury view and that “the trial court erred in allowing [it],” the court of appeals held that the trial court’s error was harmless since Alvarez testified on the stand, without objection, and “described in detail his search of the backseat [of the patrol car] before and after appellant’s arrest.” On Feb. 11, 2004, the court granted both appellant’s and the state’s petitions for discretionary review in order to determine whether the court of appeals erred. HOLDING:Affirmed. The term “view,” as understood in law, refers to the act or process by which the trier of fact ventures forth to observe places or objects that are material to litigation but that cannot reasonably be brought, or satisfactorily reproduced, within the courtroom. In this case, the jury, acting with the trial court’s permission and under its supervision, left the courthouse and went to the court’s parking lot in order to watch Officer Alvarez demonstrate how he searched his patrol car on the evening of appellant’s arrest. The court holds that what the trial court permitted in this case was a “jury view” as that term is understood in law, and the court of appeals did not err in holding likewise. The court finds no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in permitting the jury view in this case. The state’s request for the jury view was made in a timely fashion, and defense counsel was given an opportunity to object. Furthermore, on this record the trial court could have reasonably concluded that the jury view would be quick and easy to conduct and that the information to be gained by the jury view might be significant to the jury. The court holds that the court of appeals erred in holding that the trial court erred in permitting the jury view. OPINION:Charles R. Holcomb, J., delivered the unanimous opinion of the court.

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