Williamson County in-person jury trials delayed after a cleared docket

Williamson County in-person jury trials are delayed after a cleared docket.  (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County in-person jury trials are delayed after a cleared docket. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Williamson County in-person jury trials are delayed after a cleared docket. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)

The first in-person jury trials to take place in Williamson County after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to move to a virtual setting were scheduled to begin Dec. 7, but after the three scheduled cases were either resolved or moved to a later date, that will not be the case.

The trials were to take place in Judge Doug Arnold’s County Court at Law 3 courtroom, according to a news release. Two of the cases were resolved in an agreement, and the third was moved to a future date, the release said.

A jury trial committee co-chaired by Arnold and 277th District Court Judge Stacey Matthews developed an in-depth, in-person jury trial plan of health safeguards and procedures. That plan was reviewed Williamson County Local Health Authority Dr. Lori Palazzo and approved by the Regional Presiding Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield, the release said.

“Jury trials are critical to the justice system,” Williamson County’s Local Administrative District Judge Betsy Lambeth said in the release. “Our team has worked tirelessly to develop a plan that would allow us to conduct trials as safely as possible.”

While the December cases will not go trial, additional trials can begin to be scheduled for the first week of January, the release said.

“We are focused on balancing the interests of justice with the need to address legitimate health concerns,” Arnold said. “So, while we can’t be at full capacity, we are happy to have developed a process that allows for jury trials to resume in Williamson County, even at a limited level.”

Courts restricted in-person proceedings beginning in March in compliance with COVID-19-related orders from the Texas Supreme Court, the release said. To keep courts open and functioning, Williamson County transitioned to videoconference hearings, it said. Using technology, judges have conducted hearings and resolved cases throughout the pandemic, it said.
By Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.


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