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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Appellee James Vasilas is an attorney whose client was charged with the state jail felony of delivery of marijuana. Appellee’s client was convicted of the lesser-included offense of possession of marijuana. Thereafter, appellee signed and filed a petition of expunction of the records relating to his client’s arrest on the delivery charge. The state then charged appellee in a four-count indictment of tampering with a governmental record pursuant to Texas Penal Code �37.10, alleging that he made three false entries in the petition for expunction. Appellee filed a nonsuit of the expunction lawsuit. Subsequently, appellee filed a motion to quash the indictment on two grounds. First, he asserted that �37.10 and Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 13 were in pari materia, with Rule 13 controlling over �37.10. Second, he claimed that pleadings in civil suits were not governmental records under the definition of �37.01(2)(A). After hearing oral argument, the trial court granted the motion to quash without filing findings of fact or conclusions of law. The state appealed. Because the state did not appeal the trial court’s granting of the motion to quash the first three counts of the indictment, the sole issue before the court of appeals was whether the trial court erred in granting the motion to quash Count IV, which alleged that appellee did “with intent to defraud and harm another, namely, the State of Texas, make, present, and use a governmental record, to wit: a Petition for Expunction of Records, with knowledge of its falsity.” The court of appeals affirmed the trial court, holding that “the petition for expunction filed by appellee was not a governmental record within the meaning of chapter 37 of the penal code.” The court of appeals reasoned that, by including a court record in the definition of a governmental record, the Legislature meant to exclude every type of court document that was not a court record. Since the definition of a court record under the Texas Penal Code is a document issued by a court, the court of appeals concluded that a pleading, such as a petition for expunction, which is created by a party or attorney and merely filed with a court, cannot be a governmental record. The court of appeals did not address whether �37.10 and Rule 13 were in pari materia. HOLDING:The Court of Criminal Appeals reverses the decision of the court of appeals and remands the case. The court finds that the clear and unambiguous language of �37.01(2)(A) does not exclude pleadings, such as a petition for expunction, from the definition of a governmental record. The court determines whether bringing the petition for expunction within the language of the statute would lead to an absurd result. Relying on �311.021(5) of the Code Construction Act for the proposition that in enacting a statute, there is a presumption that public interest is favored over any private interest, the appellee describes the allegedly falsified petition for expunction as a mistaken pleading, the prosecution of which “would have a chilling effect upon our system of jurisprudence.” He characterizes the result of including pleadings in the definition of a governmental record as: “the State’s orwellian [sic] persecution of lawyers by attempting to deprive counselors licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas of their ability to earn a living practicing before our courts.” “Clearly, Appellee misses the point of �37.10, which does not effectively disbar attorneys, but makes them criminally liable if they tamper with a governmental record. While �37.10(a)(5) makes it an offense to make, present, or use a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity, �37.10(a)(3) makes it an offense to intentionally destroy, conceal, remove, or impair a governmental record, which is effectively what the falsified petition for expunction was attempting to do. There is nothing absurd about the legislature seeking to prohibit these acts with respect to a petition for expunction or other pleadings, and these prohibitions do not preclude effective lawyering, as Appellee suggests, by forbidding attorneys from entering alternative pleadings. Tampering with a governmental record pursuant to the definitions of ��37.10(a)(3) and 37.10(a)(5) is very different from advocating a client’s interests by advancing different legal theories which have bases in the facts and the law,” the court writes. Case law indicates that there is nothing unique about a petition for expunction such that the Legislature would seek to treat it differently from all the other records that would fall within its scope. The Legislature obviously meant to protect the people of the state by making it a crime to tamper with governmental records. By enacting �37.10, the Legislature intended to prevent a multitude of harms, including the destruction of governmental records, the perpetration of a fraud upon the court, and the miscarriage of justice that could result from the use of falsified records. There is nothing absurd about the Legislature criminalizing such conduct. OPINION:Meyers, J., delivered the court’s opinion.

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