Kendall County district court judge conducting first live jury trial since COVID-19 outbreak

No live jury trial expected in Bexar County until October

BOERNE, Texas – Testimony continued Tuesday in an assault trial in District Judge Kirsten Cohoon’s 431st District Court in Kendall County.

There have been no live jury trials in the area since the COVID-19 outbreak in March, fearing an outbreak of the virus. In 2019, there were 22 jury trials in the county.

Two district judges vying for 144th District Court bench

Cohoon said she and her staff made extensive preparations before deciding to go forward.

“I’ve had many sleepless nights on this,” Cohoon said. “I take very seriously the citizens’ safety and health, and I also take seriously our constitutional obligations.”

Face masks, face shields and social distancing are in play throughout the trial. Plexiglass barriers protect the judge and witnesses.

Bexar County’s Local Administrative Judge Ron Rangel said, “It’s absolutely encouraging to see progress,” as he discussed the Kendall County trial.

Rangel said conducting live jury trials in Bexar County will depend solely on COVID-19 statistics.

“The benchmark for us to consider bringing back live jury trials would be a positivity rate of 5% or less,” Rangel said.

The positivity rate in Bexar County is currently at 9.9%.

Rangel said he has no plans to conduct a live jury trial in Bexar County until at least October.

Rangel said that there are different philosophies and different constituencies at play between the neighboring counties.

“We’re gonna take some things that we’ve learned through this process into our normal process that will be helpful and beneficial in our jury system,” Cohoon said.

The next live jury trial in Kendall County is scheduled for Oct. 5.

About the Authors:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.