HARRIS COUNTY – For the first time in the past two years, the Harris County jury selections process will be moving back to downtown Houston.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo made the announcement during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The county has been holding jury selection at NRG Arena since July of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lease extension allows the county to continue using NRG Arena through Sept. 2022, except for a two-month period.
County paperwork shows jury assembly cannot take place at NRG Arena from Feb. 6 through March 31 because the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo need the space during that time.
In an effort to avoid pausing jury selection, the process will be moved to the newly repaired and renovated Jury Assembly Plaza downtown starting Feb. 6.
The plaza was damaged during Hurricane Harvey, but has been repaired and renovated since October 2021. Officials said the facility was not being used because of concerns that jurors would not be able to social distance inside.
“We are working on renovations at an expedited rate to make sure all of these different facilities are ready to go to protect the health of jurors, minimize travel time for lawyers, for judges, for defendants, for everybody involved in the system. And to make sure that we continue getting through that court backlog,” Commissioner Rodney Ellis said.
County officials are asking anyone who is summoned for jury duty to please show up and/or respond.
KPRC2 Investigates uncovered the jury selection issue and brought it to the county’s attention. See previous coverage here: