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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Pro se inmate Earnest Carl Wilson unsuccessfully petitioned the 71st Judicial District Court in Harrison County to expunge the records related to his April 26, 1993, arrest for escape. In its opinion, the 6th Court of Appeals was unable to identify the case in which he was arrested April 26, 1993, other than the date of his arrest and the charge. Wilson argued that the trial court erred in not giving his petition a full hearing with reasonable notice, not granting Wilson a bench warrant so he could attend the hearing, denying his expunction petition and denying his motion to vacate the trial court’s judgment denying expunction. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Expunction proceedings, the court stated, are authorized by Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and are considered civil causes of action. A petitioner is entitled to expunction only on proof of satisfaction of each statutory requirement. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 55.01, the court stated, provides that a person who is arrested may have that arrest expunged if no indictment is presented for that arrest; the person is released, the charge did not result in a final conviction and the person is not on probation; and the person does not have a record of a felony conviction within five years preceding the arrest. Expunction, the court stated, will not be granted unless the petitioner satisfies each of the statutory requirements. The court reviewed the trial court’s ruling on Wilson’s expunction petition under an abuse-of-discretion standard. Art. 55.02, the court stated, states that the trial court must set a hearing on the petition for expunction. The term “hearing,” the court stated, does not necessarily contemplate either a personal appearance before the court or an oral presentation to the court. For example, a trial court may rule on an expunction petition without conducting a formal hearing and without the consideration of live testimony, if it has at its disposal all the information it needs to resolve the issues raised by the petition. Presumably, the court stated, that information might be available by what is in the pleadings, by summary judgment proof, or by judicially noticing court records. The judgment denying Wilson’s requested expunction, the court stated, recited that the trial court examined the records of the County Court-at-Law of Harrison County and ruled on Wilson’s petition apparently by taking judicial notice of those records and without an evidentiary hearing. The trial court apparently ruled entirely on the basis of its judicial notice of another court’s records. This was an error. Before courts can take judicial notice of facts, the court stated, those facts cannot be seriously subject to debate and must be easily ascertainable. Judicial records from other states, and such records from a domestic court other than the court being asked to take judicial notice, have not been deemed so easily ascertainable that no proof is required; they are to be established by introducing into evidence authenticated or certified copies, respectively, of those records. That was not done in this case, the court stated, because the court did not hold an evidentiary hearing. OPINION:Morriss, C.J.; Morriss, C.J., and Carter and Moseley, J.J.

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