Jury duty is back in Bexar County, and for the first time ever, it's gone digital.
In March, jury duty had been suspended due to the spread and uncertainty of COVID-19. The county has been working with the Texas Supreme Court and the state's Office of Court Admissions to figure out an alternative. Last week, the county sent out 200 summonses for jury duty, which will take place over Zoom.
The civil trial date is set for Aug. 19, but the courts need potential jurors to respond to the summonses by Aug. 12.
The online questionnaire requests the same information that is normally filled out, as well as questions regarding COVID-19.
"We don't anticipate anyone coming to the courthouse. We're trying to make this as safe as possible. But we do ask questions regarding COVID. We do ask questions about your technology abilities," said Judge Antonia "Toni" Arteaga of the 57th Civil District Court of Bexar County.
Judge Arteaga said the county wants to work with residents if they don't have access to technology or secure internet with the help of Bibliotech and a grant through the Office of Court Administration.
Ultimately, the courts want jurors who can provide their undivided attention.
"We need to be sure they can be able to be in a place where they can focus. Be sure that they are open to using technology. Be sure that they have internet access, be sure that they don't take calls in the middle of jury duty and be sure that they have a desire deserve, that's something that will never change. And what we need right now is more help from our community to keep the wheels of justice rolling," Arteaga said.
Pending the virtual experience in the civil court, Bexar County criminal court proceedings could follow suit.
Guest: Judge Antonia “Toni” Arteaga, 57th Civil District Court of Bexar County
"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @TPRSource.
*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, July 28.
TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.