EDTX & NDTX Monthly Wrap-Up – November 2020: Texas Trials Come to a Halt

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COVID in the Courtroom – Texas Trials Come to a Halt

Following a mistrial in a Sherman, Texas courthouse, all four Federal Districts in Texas ordered continuances of their upcoming in-person jury trials.

On November 17, Judge Mazzant granted a mistrial after several participants tested positive for COVID-19.[1] The trial began on November 2, but by the sixth day, one of the jurors informed the court that they had tested positive. In response, the court suspended the trial and requested all jurors to get tested by November 13.[2] The trial was to resume on November 17 if everyone tested negative.[3]

By November 13, however, the number of positive cases had risen to seven.[4] And by November 17, fifteen participants had tested positive.[5] While five jurors remained healthy and willing to continue, the defendant was unwilling to proceed, and the court granted a mistrial.[6]

A few days later, Chief Judge Gilstrap continued all trials scheduled in his Eastern District courthouse through February 2021.[7] The Northern,[8] Southern,[9] and Western[10] Districts issued similar orders in the days and weeks preceding. Judge Gilstrap noted that his court conducted its first in-person jury trial in August without known incident, and additional trials took place in September, October, and November.[11] Nonetheless, the court recognized the rising number of cases and thus continued its upcoming trials to later in 2021.[12]

[1] Resman, LLC v. Karya Prop. Mgmt., LLC, No. 4:19-CV-00402 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 17, 2020).

[2] Resman, LLC v. Karya Prop. Mgmt., LLC, No. 4:19-CV-00402 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 9, 2020).

[3] Id.

[4] Resman, LLC v. Karya Prop. Mgmt., LLC, No. 4:19-CV-00402 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 13, 2020).

[5] Resman, LLC v. Karya Prop. Mgmt., LLC, No. 4:19-CV-00402 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 17, 2020).

[6] Id.

[7] See, e.g., Infernal Tech., LLC v. Sony Interactive Entm’t LLC, No. 2:19-CV-00248-JRG (E.D. Tex. Nov. 20, 2020).

[8] http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/documents/SO13-18.pdf

[9] https://www.txs.uscourts.gov/sites/txs/files/Special%20Order%20M-2020-10%20Court%20Operations%20in%20McAllen%20During%20COVID-19.pdf; https://www.txs.uscourts.gov/sites/txs/files/Special%20Order%20H-2020-24%20Eighth%20Supplemental%20Court%20Operations%20in%20Houston%20and%20Galveston%20During%20COVID-19.pdf; https://www.txs.uscourts.gov/sites/txs/files/Special%20Order%20C-2020-23%20Court%20Operations%20in%20Corpus%20Christi%20During%20COVID-19.pdf

[10] https://www.txwd.uscourts.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/OLGOrderTenthSupplementalCOVID111820.pdf

[11] See Infernal Tech., No. 2:19-CV-00248-JRG (E.D. Tex. Nov. 20, 2020).

[12] Id.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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