Midland County Courthouse loosens precautions as COVID-19 positivity rates drop

Inside the Midland County Courthouse, jury selection operations are somewhat back to normal.
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 7:45 PM CDT
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MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - As COVID positivity rates in Midland decline, some judges at The Midland County Courthouse are deciding to loosen up its COVID precautions for jury trials.

“I give the jurors the option of how close they want to be, everyone can wear a mask if they want to wear a mask, they don’t have to. If they want to wear a shield they can wear a shield. We supply them. Nobody is forced to do anything,” said 441st District and Administrative Judge Jeff Robnett.

Inside the Midland County Courthouse, jury selection operations are somewhat back to normal.

The few lingering pandemic precautions for jurors are optional. For court proceedings, pandemic precautions have scaled back the number of trials per week and limited the number of jurors selected.

“What we’ve been having here is about 110 people actually sitting, because we send less notices out to be able to have and that’s to be able to have people spread out in smaller numbers, and we do it two days a week as opposed to one day a week,” said Robnett.

For nearly a year, there were no jury trials at all because of the pandemic. But this year, The Midland County Courthouse has seen over 45 jury trials, a total of 13,870 jurors were summoned and 81 percent made an appearance for duty.

“COVID changed everything because the number one concern had never been there before which was the health and safety of jurors from a disease,” said Robnett.

district clerk, Alex ‘Lex’ Archuleta said a regulation handed down from the Texas Supreme Court also gives jurors the option of suspending their jury duty by answering a COVID-questionnaire.

“It’s three parts to it and if anyone felt in the least bit uncomfortable or unsafe or they had a history they were, they were excused and reset and none of them were ever postponed,” said Archuleta.

Judge Robnett said November 1st, Midland County Courthouse hopes to return entirely back to pre-pandemic court proceedings.

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