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.


MOST RECENT

The Exchange of Georgetown relocated in early January but remains in downtown Georgetown. (Courtesy The Exchange of Georgetown)
The Exchange of Georgetown relocates on the Georgetown Square

The Exchange of Georgetown relocated in early January.

The event will highlight major projects and programs completed in 2020 and preview what is to come in 2021. (Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)
Georgetown State of the City event to be held virtually

All residents participating in the event will be entered to win one of several prizes, including a one-year family pass to the Georgetown Recreation Center and one-year passes to Garey Park.

Trauma Service Area O, which comprises 11 counties, is nearing hospital and ICU bed capacity. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Record-high 582 new COVID-19 cases reported in Williamson County on Jan. 15

Trauma Service Area O, which comprises 11 counties, is nearing hospital and ICU bed capacity.

A group of Austin-area school districts is advocating for early distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for school staff members. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin-area school districts advocate for teachers to receive COVID-19 vaccines

Educators in the designated population for early distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in 32 states. Texas was not one of them, according to a Jan. 14 letter signed by 17 Central Texas school districts.

Southwestern University will host several events for its annual Dream Week programming. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Honor, celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at these Georgetown events Jan. 18-26

A variety of events including a virtual program, service day events, and a race and ethnicity symposium will be held in Georgetown.

H-E-B is preparing to accept coronavirus vaccine appointments through an online portal. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
H-E-B launches vaccine portal; Whipped Bakery opens in Leander and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

See how COVID-19 is impacting Williamson County. (Community Impact staff)
455 new cases of coronavirus reported in Williamson County on Jan. 14

Keep up to date on how the novel coronavirus has impacted Williamson County.

Cryotherapy, which is used to reduce inflammation, is known to help with pain, weight loss, sleep and more. (Courtesy Cryo @ Wolf)
New cryotherapy center opens in Wolf Ranch, more Georgetown business news

Cryo @ Wolf opened in the Wolf Ranch shopping center Jan. 5.

Williamson County broke 25,000 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and added seven deaths Jan. 13. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Williamson County breaks 25,000 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, adds 7 deaths Jan. 13

The county is also nearing capacity for hospital and ICU beds for coronavirus patients.

(Courtesy House photography)
Williamson County state legislators set priorities as session begins

Beyond the budget, one of the key decisions made this session will be redistricting, the process of redrawing district boundaries to guarantee equal voter representation through equal, or equivalent, population counts.