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Some Nueces County judges considering delaying in-person jury trials

Pending decision due to number of COVID cases
The Nueces County Courthouse
Posted at 7:10 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 20:10:27-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS — Some Nueces County judges are considering delaying in-person jury trials due to the growing number of Corona virus cases in the county.

One of those judges considering delaying the in-person jury trials is Judge David Stith of the 319th District Court. He said recently someone that was involved in another district court contracted the virus.

He said district and county court judges decided to have the in-person jury trials until at least the first week of October, but when it gets closer to that week, they will be reevaluating the need to delay them.

Thursday, Stith sent out an order for the judges’ approval and signatures to delay calling in person jury trials until the first week of October.

“When jury trials are set, as a general rule, more people plead because they know that they’re going to either face jury trial or they’re going to be able to take a plea from the district attorney’s office,” he said.

Stith also said that delaying the trials wouldn’t just affect courts, but also jails.

“Every single judge wants to get their docket moving and their trial done. The sherif wants people to have their day in court and to move out from the jail and so the deal with that though is we have to provide an environment that’s safe for the people we call in,” Stith said.

However, Justice of the Peace Judge Henry Santana said they are not having in-person jury trials until September. He said it’s putting a strain on someone’s right to a speedy trial.

“Our Constitution states that every person is entitled by law to a speedy trial but we find ourselves in a situation here that’s hard to adhere to via these circumstances,” Santana said.

Santana said he is not backed up on cases that do not require a jury and said those cases are done pretty quickly. He urges people that do have in-person jury trials pending to have patience because judges are doing all they can to attend to those cases.

“Be patient. We’re going through a crisis in our nation that we never have before. We’re trying to do the best we can in courts that are available, that we keep them safe and secure,” he said.