Social distancing, technology play key roles in first in-person federal jury trial since pandemic began

Spectators view proceedings on monitor in jury assembly room

SAN ANTONIO – The first federal jury trial held in Bexar County since they were halted in March 2020 due to the pandemic ended on Friday, and technology played a key role in the proceedings.

The jury was seated in U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez’s courtroom in seats usually reserved for spectators to comply with social distancing protocols.

Spectators were allowed to view the proceedings on a monitor in the courthouse jury assembly room.

“I hope we’ve adapted,” Judge Rodriguez said Friday. “It’s a learning process.”

Rodriguez was instrumental in the development of the new procedure. He said it was the best available option since, by law, spectators must be allowed to view most court proceedings.

“I thought, by and large, it worked smoother than anticipated,” Rodriguez said. “There are some kinks.”

Still, he said, COVID-19 technology will almost certainly be a part of the future legal landscape.

About the Authors:

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

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.