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Section Report
My predecessor, Justice Gina Benavides, penned this update last year discussing the unknown, if not scary, world that awaited us. As she predicted, the courts rose to the occasion. The Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals immediately issued orders authorizing courts to change deadlines and provide for remote proceedings. David Slayton and the Office of Court Administration ramped up the acquisition of Zoom licenses for all the courts. To date, over one million Zoom hearings have transpired in Texas. As Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht recently noted, participation rates in high-volume dockets like child custody and traffic cases flipped from approximately 80% no-shows to 80% appearances through online access. Unfortunately, the jury trial did not fare as well. The risk of infection and fear of the disease were incompatible with the mandatory component of jury service. Although some judges bravely ventured into online jury trials, most encountered parties and attorneys who preferred to wait. The result was approximately 240 jury trials from March 2020 to March 2021 compared to 9,000 in 2019. The judiciary is committed to clear this backlog, and like its reaction to COVID, I predict success
-Hon. Les Hatch, Chair 2020-2021
Texas Judicial Section
State Bar of Texas
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