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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Authorities charged Vincent Henry Flowers with driving while intoxicated in Denton County. The information included an enhancement paragraph alleging a prior DWI conviction, Cause No. MB9539105, in Dallas County on Aug. 18, 1995. Flowers pleaded not guilty to the charged offense and not true to the enhancement paragraph. A Denton County jury convicted Flowers of DWI, and Flowers elected to be sentenced by the judge. Before trial, the Denton County District Attorney’s Office sent a letter to the Dallas County Clerk’s Office requesting certified copies of the judgment, information, revocation orders and fingerprints for Flowers. The Dallas County Clerk’s Office wrote a letter in response, stating that the file was missing from its offsite warehouse facility. In lieu of the requested documents, the clerk’s office sent a certified computer printout of Flowers’ conviction record. The prosecutor also requested and received a certified copy of Flowers’ driver’s license record from the Texas Department of Public Safety. During the sentencing hearing, the state offered Flowers’ Texas driver’s license record as state’s exhibit 10, which the trial court admitted without objection. Exhibit 10 was a six-page document and included Flowers’ name, sex, date of birth, age, address and driver’s license number, as well as a copy of Flowers’ driver’s license with his photograph. It also contained the following entry: “Date of offense 08-02-95 for DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED in DALLAS County, Texas. Convicted on 8-18-95 at County Court, Docket Number MB9539105H.” The state then offered State’s Exhibit 11B, the Dallas County computer printout of Flowers’ conviction record. Flowers’ counsel objected, stating that the exhibit was irrelevant, because it was a computer printout, not a judgment. The judge overruled the objection and admitted State’s Exhibit 11. Exhibit 11 contained Flowers’ name, date of birth, address, social security number, date of arrest, charged offense, finding of guilt, sentence and the judicial case identification number. All of the information matched the information contained in Flowers’ Texas driver’s license record. Based on the totality of the state’s evidence, the trial judge found the enhancement paragraph relating to the 1995 Dallas County DWI conviction to be true. He sentenced Flowers to 270 days in Denton County Jail and assessed a fine of $2,000. Flowers argued on appeal that the trial court improperly admitted state’s exhibit No. 11, which he asserted was irrelevant, because it was not a judgment, bore no connection to him and proved nothing. He argued alternatively that, even if state’s exhibit No. 11 was properly admitted, the evidence was both legally and factually insufficient to prove his prior conviction of the 1995 DWI. In affirming the trial court, the 2nd Court of Appeals held that the computer printout contained sufficient information and indicia of reliability to constitute the functional equivalent of a judgment and sentence. HOLDING:Affirmed. To establish that a defendant has been convicted of a prior offense, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1. a prior conviction exists; and 2. the defendant is linked to that conviction. No specific document or mode of proof is required to prove these two elements, the Court of Criminal Appeals stated. There is no best evidence rule in Texas that requires that the fact of a prior conviction be proven with any document, much less any specific document, the CCA further stated. In addition to a certified copy of a final judgment and sentence, the court stated that the state may prove prior convictions by: the defendant’s admission or stipulation; testimony by a person who was present when the person was convicted of the specified crime and can identify the defendant as that person; or documentary proof (such as a judgment) that contains sufficient information to establish both the existence of a prior conviction and the defendant’s identity as the person convicted. The court concluded that although state’s exhibit No. 11 might not be, for all purposes, the functional equivalent of a judgment as defined in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 42.01, the exhibit was sufficient when considered in conjunction with exhibit No. 10 to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of Flowers’ 1995 DWI conviction in Dallas County. Thus, the court held that legally sufficient evidence supported the trial court’s finding that Flowers had a prior DWI conviction as alleged in the enhancement paragraph. OPINION:Cochran, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Keller, P.J., Womack, Keasler, Hervey and Holcomb, J.J., joined. Meyers, J., did not participate. CONCURRENCE:Johnson, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Price, J., joined. “[I]f the state may now use a wider assortment of sources to prove alleged prior convictions, a defendant must also be allowed to use a wider assortment of sources to disprove alleged prior convictions. “When allowing use of nontraditional resources, courts must exercise great care in assuring that the defendant is sufficiently connected to the prior conviction. Assuring that a sufficient connection exists requires at least two things: 1) enough information to establish that the conviction can be connected to its proper owner; and 2) the information is sufficiently corroborated. More information makes the connection more reliable.”

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