Despite slow start to in-person trials, civil district courts are getting work done

9 cases have been settled since reopening on June 1

SAN ANOTONIO – In-person hearings and jury trials have resumed after the COVID-19 pandemic brought them to a halt but the civil district court side of the justice system is seeing many cases being settled without needing a jury.

Since reopening on June 1, nine cases have been settled before jury selection.

“All last week judges were assigned and ready to preside over in-person jury trials, and then they settled,” 45th Civil District Judge Mary Lou Alvarez said. “And that’s fine, that’s the way it goes.”

The civil courts continued to hear cases throughout the pandemic over Zoom. They had a Zoom bench trial pilot program as well as hearing about 15 Zoom jury trials since October 2020.

“We have and we are working so hard to make sure that access to justice has never stopped,” Alvarez said.

In the future, some of what was adapted through the pandemic might stay in place because the changes made more hearings possible for all involved in court proceedings.

“Everybody is committed to maintaining the integrity of the judicial institution and that is valuable,” Alvarez said.

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About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.