Travis County criminal courts suspend in-person dockets, jury trials

Travis County
Travis County courtroom with COVID-19 precautions in place (KXAN Photo/Chris Nelson)

Travis County courtroom with COVID-19 precautions in place (KXAN Photo/Chris Nelson)

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Travis County criminal courts suspended in-person dockets and jury trials starting on Monday because of rising coronavirus cases in the area.

Austin-Travis County moved to Stage 5 of its risk based guidelines earlier this week.

The county is moving forward with virtual hearings and dockets to stay safe, but criminal jury trials cannot be held virtually. That means the trials will contribute to the area’s jury backlog, according to a spokesperson with Travis County.

Just last month, Travis County was preparing to resume criminal jury trials in person, with courtrooms outfitted with plexiglass barriers and sanitizing stations. It also planned for jurors and witnesses to wear clear face shields, so facial expressions could still be seen.

In March 2021, Travis County District Attorney José Garza told KXAN the backlog in criminal jury trials “means that justice is delayed for people who are accused and victims.” He said then his staff is working to clear the backlog in cases.

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