State agency OKs resuming in-person jury trials on Oct. 1

Final decision up to local administrative judges

As COVID-19 positivity rate trends down, could Jury trials continue?
As COVID-19 positivity rate trends down, could Jury trials continue?

SAN ANTONIO – The state Office of Court Administration’s September order outlining guidelines for resuming in-person jury trials recommended that trials begin on Oct. 1. But the decision on when to continue jury trials was left up to each county’s local administrative judge.

“I am looking at the beginning of the year unless factors change,” Local Administrative Judge Ron Rangel said Wednesday. “We’ve always got to keep an open mind.”

He said his decision will be based on the numbers.

“The positivity rate in Bexar County is 7.8%,” Rangel said. “The standard I believe we should set is less than a 5% positivity rate.”

He said his primary concern has always been the safety of the public.

Rangel said that starting too soon could pose a safety risk and could have a negative impact on judicial efficiency.

“We want to make sure that when folks come in, that they know they’re coming in for good,” he said.

According to Rangel, the final decision on resuming in-person jury trials will be made based on input from all of the county’s judges.

Those opinions are “all across the board,” he said.

“There are some judges that are itching to start a trial, and I don’t blame them,” he said. “Others prefer to proceed with caution.”

A moratorium on jury service was ordered in early March over concerns of spreading the coronavirus.

About the Authors:

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