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When Is My Trial In The Age of Corona?

The phrase "I want my day in Court" typically refers to someone wanting a jury or bench trial. However, ever since SARS-CoV-2 (AKA Covid-19; Corona; COVID) reared its pesky little head in early March of 2020 here in Texas, trials, particularly criminal jury trials, have been placed on hold. The Supreme Court of Texas in its most recent Emergency Order Regarding The COVID-19 State of Disaster (May 26, 2020) stated that no trial may commence prior to August 1, 2020. Yet if you have been listening to the chatter around the court house you get the sense that no one really knows when trials will commence. This is because the COVID-19 pandemic itself is a very fluid situation. Gathering the numbers needed to assemble a jury panel and then conduct the jury selection process clashes with the social distancing guidelines meant to protect the public at large. This is further compounded with the rising number in confirmed COVID-19 cases, the potential second waive, lack of vaccine, and upcoming seasonal flu. Furthermore, there is great fear that even if a perfect process for assembling and selecting a jury panel were to exist people will still be hesitant to show up for jury selection for a multitude of reason. Currently, there are some Judges in Tarrant County who genuinely believe there will not be any criminal trials until 2021. Thus when I am asked by my clients when will I have my day in Court the honest answer is "I do not know." This is something we all are just going to have to be patient with and play it by ear.


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