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DSHS Letter to Williamson County Judge GA-32 50 Percent Occupancy in Business

Region O Reaches COVID-19 High Hospitalization Rate; Certain Businesses Reduced to 50% Capacity

Region O Reaches COVID-19 High Hospitalization Rate; Certain Businesses Reduced to 50% Capacity 10 January 2021

Region O Reaches COVID-19 High Hospitalization Rate; Certain Businesses Reduced to 50% Capacity

Williamson County, which falls under Trauma Service Area (TSA) Region O, received notification today from the Texas Department of State Health Services via electronic mail that our area has hit a high hospitalization rate for seven consecutive days. Per Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32, Region O now falls under reduced capacity limits for certain businesses. For more information on Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32 and reductions in capacity, please click here. The notification letter from Dr. Hellerstadt can be viewed here.   

General: Guidance for All Court Proceedings During COVID-19 Pandemic (For Proceedings on or after June 1, 2020)

21 May 2020

General: Guidance for All Court Proceedings During COVID-19 Pandemic (For Proceedings on or after June 1, 2020)

On or after June 1 until further updated1:

NOTE: Courts are not required to commence in-person proceedings on June 1 and should include in their discussions with the county judge/mayor and local health authority a proper date for commencing in-person hearings under the operating plan.

  • Courts should use all reasonable efforts to conduct proceedings remotely.2 All proceedings, both essential and non-essential, should occur remotely (such as by teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other means) unless litigants or other court participants are unable to successfully participate in a remote hearing for reasons beyond the court’s control. 3 Courts may need to conduct hybrid hearings in certain proceedings.
  • Jury trials must not be held until further guidance is issued by the Office of Court Administration (expected to be released no later than mid-May for proceedings in the summer). It is anticipated that jury trials can safely resume in the summer; however, due to the unique nature of these proceedings, special attention must be provided to ensure the safety of jurors and others in these large group gatherings. Specific guidance to assist jurisdictions in planning resumption of jury proceedings will be issued soon.

Criminal: Revised Criminal Hearing Order

2 April 2020

Criminal: Revised Criminal Hearing Order

This General Order supersedes, in its entirety, the “General Order Regarding Court Hearings in Felony Cases if the Courthouse is Inaccessible due to the Exigent Circumstances Created by COVID-19 and Related Coronavirus” issued on March 24, 2020.
Due to the continuing state of emergency ordered by the Governor, and in an effort to ensure that defendants in felony cases may be heard, in compliance with the relevant orders of the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court ORDERS that, until further order, hearings in felony cases are restricted to the following issues:

  1. Pleas;
  2. Emergency Hearings; and
  3. Bail Hearings.

Additionally, because of the public health risk associated with in-person gatherings as articulated in various executive orders issued by the President, Governor, and County Judge, the court ORDERS that EFFECTIVE MONDAY APRIL 6, 2020 hearings in felony cases shall continue to be conducted exclusively on an electronic basis, and in conformance with the “Revised Procedure for Setting and Conducting Electronic & Telephone Court Hearings in Felony Cases” attached as Exhibit A. Counsel should note that the procedure outlined in Exhibit A contains important refinements related to deadlines and eFiling that result from input from the bar and other participants in the justice system.
As in previously adopted orders, the Court reminds counsel that we take seriously our obligation to balance the interest of justice and the health and safety of our courthouse community and the community at large, and we request patience as our processes continue to evolve with this exigency.

Criminal: General Order: Regarding Public Access to Court Proceedings Under the 2020 State of Disaster COVID-19 and Related Coronavirus

1 April 2020

Criminal: General Order: Regarding Public Access to Court Proceedings Under the 2020 State of Disaster COVID-19 and Related Coronavirus

This General Order is issued in response to the Local State of Disaster that has been declared by the County Judge of Williamson County, as well as the state of disaster declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States. This General Order is also issued after considering and in conformance with Emergency Orders Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals1.

WHEREAS, the Courts of Williamson County are open, “and every person…shall have remedy by due course of law.” (Tx. Const. Art. I Sec. 13).

WHEREAS, the Courts of Williamson County have determined that there is an overriding or compelling interest to protect the health and safety of the public, parties, and employees of the Court from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and related coronavirus;

WHEREAS, the Courts of Williamson County have determined that the exclusion of the public from in-person court proceedings is essential to reduce the risk to the public, parties, and employees of the Court from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and related coronavirus;

WHEREAS, the Courts of Williamson County have considered that there are reasonable alternatives to total exclusion or closure of court proceedings that will serve the interest of reducing the risk of exposure to COVID19 and related coronavirus while balancing the public’s access to court proceedings.

It is therefore ORDERED that, effective immediately and continuing until further order, if a member of the public desires to observe any court proceedings held in the courts of Williamson County, Texas, the requestor shall contact the court administrator of the court in which the case is scheduled at least 24 hours prior to the date and time of the court hearing to arrange for the requestor to view the proceedings being conducted through remote technology.

Nothing in this order precludes a court in Williamson County from broadcasting hearings in a manner chosen by each individual court.

The contact information for each court administrator is located on Williamson County’s website.1

If you are viewing, please mute your connection to prevent disruption to the court proceedings. VIDEO OR AUDIO RECORDING OF THE PROCEEDINGS IS PROHIBITED.

1 Misc. Docket No. 20-9042 (Tex.) Misc. Docket No. 20-007 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446056/209042.pdf (2. Subject only to constitutional limitations, all courts in Texas may in any case, civil or criminal—and must to avoid risk to court staff, parties, attorneys, jurors, and the public—without a participant’s consent: … b. Allow or require anyone involved in any hearing, deposition, or other proceeding of any kind—including but not limited to a party, attorney, witness, or court reporter, but not including a juror—to participate remotely, such as by teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other means; c. Consider as evidence sworn statements made out of court or sworn testimony given remotely, out of court, such as by teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other means; d. Conduct proceedings away from the court’s usual location, but in the county of venue, and only with reasonable notice and access to the participants and the public; … f. Take any other reasonable action to avoid exposing court proceedings to the threat of COVID-19….” Misc. Docket No. 20-9044 (Tex.) Mics. Docket No. 20-008 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at &am

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