The massive slowdown of Texas courts and the impact on justice

Judge who held first Zoom trial in nation sees solutions via virtual proceedings

If you were to talk with experts about the current state of the justice system in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, they will quickly tell you it has been dramatically impacted.

“This is a deluge of biblical proportion that has affected every court and every county across, not just Texas, but the United States of America,” said KPRC 2′s Legal Analyst Brian Wice.

Howard Henderson, director of the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University, sums it up in four words.

“It’s a total mess,” said Henderson.

Whether it’s criminal or civil, the core in the majority of cases is a life-changing decision. In criminal cases, it translates to an innocent person not having their day in court or to victims not being able to secure justice.

Tom Selleck, the District Attorney for Brazoria County, has seen his courtroom capacity slashed by 60% in order to accommodate jurors in what is routinely the public seating area.

“You’re balancing a person’s right to a speedy trial with a person’s right not to get sick, and it’s a hell of a balance,” Selleck said.

The Harris County justice system is in a unique position. The system was already behind before the pandemic.


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