LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many counties are holding jury selection in venues larger than courtrooms. In Gregg County, it was being held at Maude Cobb. However, the next jury selection the county will hold will be at the Gregg County Courthouse.
Gregg County District Clerk Trey Hattaway was seated outside the 188th District Court for Grand Jury Selection. That has continued at the Gregg County Courthouse since summons numbers are smaller. And so is the number of COVID-19 cases in the county.
“Those numbers have started to trend down,” Hattaway said.
He said while jury selection was happening at Maude Cobb the judges had been asking potential jurors if they would feel safe going back to the courthouse.
“The folks that they had talked to felt that they would be more than okay and felt comfortable coming back to the courthouse with some precautions still in place,” Hattaway said.
And the precautions are that:
“We will seat them every other seat. They will still be required to wear a mask,” Hattaway said.
He says the Office of Court Administration is setting guidelines they will follow in Gregg County, and they will only hold two jury trials a week. So they won’t be sending out over two hundred jury summons.
“As we’ve tried to go through the courtrooms and count the numbers of seats that we have, I think we can safely put in about 105 people,” Hattaway said.
One-hundred twenty-fourth District Judge Alfonso Charles says there will be more people allowed in the courtroom for jury trials.
“We will be looking at putting more people in the jury box. I’m not sure we’ll go all thirteen. Although at my last trial, all the jurors said they would have been comfortable if I would have put them in the jury box,” Charles said.
So jury summons are about to go out in the mail to about half as many people as before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s the next step in kind of returning to normal in some manner,” Charles said.
Jury selection will be held at the courthouse beginning May 17. It will use two courtrooms connected with closed-circuit TV. The following jury selection at the courthouse will be on May 24. Clear face shields are issued to potential jurors and trials.
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