Opposition for virtual civil jury trials in Bexar County is growing

Defense attorneys question whether virtual jury trials are fair

SAN ANTONIO – Opposition to conduct virtual civil jury trials in Bexar County to address the backlog of court cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic is growing.

Another attempt at conducting a virtual civil jury trial is scheduled for November 9th, Local Administrative Judge Ron Rangel said Wednesday.

In September, a trial failed when all parties could not agree to the proceeding, as is mandated by a Texas Supreme Court order allowing virtual civil jury trials.

The order allows the trial judge to compel the parties to proceed if an agreement cannot b6e reached.

The president of the local American Board of Trial Advocates says 90% of the group’s membership opposes virtual civil jury trials.

“The Constitution guarantees us the right to a jury trial of our peers. But it also guarantees an open court,” said Dennis Peery, president of the local American Board of Trial Advocates. “Most of our membership thinks that it would be very difficult to get a true measure of justice from a virtual jury panel.”

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.

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