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Definition: Ex Parte

Ex parte refers to contact between a party to litigation (including the party’s counsel) and the court without notice to the other parties to the litigation. In Texas, Ex parte can act as an adjective, an adverb, and a verb depending on the context:

Adjective: “Prosecutors have ex parte communications with judges all the time.” Adverb: “Prosecutors discuss cases with judges ex parte all the time.” Verb: “Prosecutors ex parte judges all the time.”

Ex parte communications are generally improper under court rules, judicial ethics, and legal ethics. One notable exception is when the accused in a criminal case has to ask the judge to approve something that is none of the State’s business — for example, court payment to a defense expert under Ake v. Oklahoma.

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