As virtual court proceedings continue in Fort Bend County, residents can visit a local library to take part in court proceedings.

The gist

At a May 28 meeting, Fort Bend County commissioners approved a five-year memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with the Texas Legal Services Center for its virtual court kiosk at the Willie Melton Law Library, located at 1422 Eugene Heimann Circle, Richmond. With the new MOU, services will continue through 2029, according to agenda documents.

It comes at no additional cost to the county, Law Librarian Andrew Bennett said in an email.

The kiosk was initially approved as a one-year agreement and was available to residents in March 2023, Bennett said.

The details

The kiosk provides a space for county residents to attend to legal matters in a private environment, especially for those without their own devices or internet access. Community members can reserve the kiosk for either the morning or afternoon court dockets in either English or Spanish, Bennett said.

According to the Fort Bend County Libraries’ website, residents can use the kiosk for:
  • Attending an online court hearing
  • Researching information on legal issues
  • Filing forms online
  • Obtaining legal help
Additionally, the program offers free attorney consultations for low-income individuals, though residents have to qualify for this through the Texas Legal Services Center, according to its website. The center assists with matters including:
  • Family, parenting and child welfare
  • Victims of violence, abuse and stalking
  • Senior care, retirement and estate planning
  • Housing and financial issues
  • Accessing military and veteran benefits
  • Victims of discrimination and social justice issues
  • Accessing government benefits
To apply for legal assistance, click here.

Why it matters

Since April 2023, the kiosk has seen a little over 25 users, although Bennett said he anticipates more patrons using the service as advertising is increased.

“Our judges are still doing quite a bit by Zoom, and having the option to provide [a space] for patrons without computers or smartphones at home, especially at no cost to us, is the right thing to do,” Bennett said.

Those wishing to use the court kiosk should click here for reservations.