Jury trials are being delayed across Bexar County and beyond due to COVID-19, the disease that is expected to affect an more than 100 million Americans.
Friday morning Bexar County delayed all jury trials in the county. Friday evening Judge Orlando Garcia, chief judge of the Western District of Texas, signed a similar order. In between that time frame two disaster declarations were signed by Gov. Greg Abbott and President Donald Trump.
Garcia, in consultation with 17 other federal judges, ordered all civil and criminal jury trials scheduled to start between now and May 1 to be delayed across the district that spans a third of the state.
According to the order, the move is being made to reduce the number of public gatherings and due to the spread of coronavirus across the Western District, with documented cases of COVID-19 in Austin, Del Rio and San Antonio. The court is concerned with the health of its staff, employees and the many other entities it interacts with including
“litigants, counsel, interpreters, law enforcement officials, and jurors who must work in close quarters to hear evidence and to deliberate.”
The U.S. attorney's office has requested grand juries continue, and due to the extremely large caseload, they will continue.
Magistrate judges will still see initial appearances, arraignments, detention hearings and issue warrants.
Individual judges can still hold in-person hearings, sentencing and conferences — but lawyers can ask for delays or that they be held over the phone or by video.
All of the Western district's courthouses will remain open but many court employees will work remotely. Many non-case events will be canceled, including naturalization ceremonies.
Bexar County jury summons for that period should be ignored according to court officials.
Find out more information about the Bexar County Sheriff's Officee here.