Plans underway to restart jury system in Bexar County

COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of jury duty last month

SAN ANTONIO – Calling a May 15 date for restarting the jury system a “moving target," Bexar County Administrative Judge Ron Rangel is considering ways to get things up and running.

“When we open the jury room again, I don’t know,” Rangel said Wednesday. “I’m confident that when we do open the jury room, we’ll be prepared to do that and we’ll do it the right way.”

But Rangel said the COVID-19 pandemic could pose problems.

“If we practice social distancing in this jury room, instead of 650 (people), we could only accommodate at least 100,” he said. “And 100 is barely enough to cover one felony trial.”

Jury moratorium in Bexar County courts extended

Another potential challenge that could arise is if jurors are required to wear masks.

“If they wear masks, how is that going to affect our ability as to whether or not they’re credible?” Rangel asked. “Part of our communication relies on facial expressions and intonations.”

Bexar County district judge orders face coverings worn in courtrooms

As for sending out jury summons, nothing will change, Rangel said.

“If somebody receives a summons when we believe it’s time to send the summons out, they have to be able to work within the system,” he said. “They’ve got to be patient.”

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


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