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Hays County District Courts resumed jury trials Monday after the COVID-19 pandemic suspended them for over a year. Daily Record file photo

Court proceedings resume after year-long pause

Monday, June 7, 2021

Hays County District Courts resumed jury trials Monday after the COVID-19 pandemic suspended them for over a year. 

Hays County also announced that Courts-at-Law will resume jury trials, beginning on July 6. Additionally, the county said judicial officials have new health protocols in place. 

“It is important that we ensure the health and safety of litigants, attorneys, visitors, court staff, judges and any other individual entering the buildings housing the courts,” said Judge Gary Steel, who serves as the Local Administrative District Judge.

Health safety standards among judges and courts, include following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines  and optional face coverings, according to Steel. Additionally, judges may limit the use of physical or paper exhibits/evidence where it’s reasonable to use a digital form. Judges may also limit the passing and shared use of microphones during jury proceedings, the county added. 

“Protective protocols may be required for: hearings on objections or motions related to proceedings, communication protocols, summoning jurors,” Steel said.

Respective parties will be required to communicate with the court if any participant in a jury proceeding has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 30 days, if they have COVID-19 symptoms, or if they’ve recently been exposed to the coronavirus, the county said. 

“Judges may permit witnesses to testify remotely via videoconference, especially if the individual has symptoms or a recent positive test for COVID-19, has been recently exposed, or is vulnerable to contracting COVID-19,” Steel said.

According to Hays County, those who believe they meet one or more criteria to be considered in a vulnerable population — including those who are 65 years or older and those who have underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity or are immunocompromised — may contact the District Clerk’s Office at 512-393-7660 to be excused.

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