St. Mary's Law Journal


St. Mary's University School of Law


Anti-pyramid rules are based in the idea that a finding based on nothing more than mere speculation should be rejected. Despite the frequent invocation of these rules, many Texas courts fail to utilize them correctly. Though countless decisions lay down the general rule that a presumption cannot be based on another presumption and several state judiciaries pointing out the futility of basing an inference upon another inference, it is rare for the rules to be properly applied. This can be seen in Texas cases referencing and applying the rule. While a few cases justifiably apply the rule, in most cases, its application is irrelevant for one of the following reasons: (1) the case doesn’t actually involve the building of an inference upon an inference or presumption upon a presumption; (2) the evidence used does not justify the drawing of the inference or presumption, regardless of pyramiding; or (3) even if the validity of a first inference or presumption is conceded, the fact drawn could not support the finding of a second inference or presumption. In all other cases, the incantation of the formulae serves no useful purpose other than to disguise the true reason for an otherwise defensible conclusion that the evidence relied on to support a particular fact finding doesn’t measure up to the standards relating to significance, as opposed to method of proof. One cause of the misapplication of the rule may be due to the confusion between an inference and a presumption. However, understanding the distinction will not necessarily remedy the improper incantation of the rule. To remedy the issues between these ideas, courts should instead evaluate all of the circumstances and attempt to determine whether the probability of the existence of the ultimate fact is sufficiently high to justify the finding of its existence.

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