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COVID-19 Disaster Announcements

Civil: Court Operations in Civil Non-Family District Courts Under the 2O2O State of Disaster COVID-l9 and Related Coronavirus

  • 18 March 2020
  • Author: bawassink
  • Number of views: 380
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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 declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States, and in conformance with First Emergency Order Regarding the COVID- I 9 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals. (Misc. Docket No. 20-9042 (Tex.) Misc. Docket No. 20-007 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https ://www.txcourts.gov/medial1446056/209042.pdf)

The Courts of Williamson County are open, “and every person...shall have remedy by due course of law." (Tx. Const. Art. I Sec. 13). The Court finds that the State of Disaster requires certain steps to be taken in order to mitigate risk to the health and safety of the public, parties, and employees of the Court, and so it is therefore ORDERED that, effective March 17,2020 and continuing until May I 1,2020, unless extended by further orders:

  1. Due to the limitations on mass gatherings limiting the Courts' ability to impanel juries, all jury trials in District Court Civil matters scheduled through May I l,2O2O are CONTNUED without prejudice to either party and, consistent with the directive of the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals, this Court finds that the ends of justice are served by this continuance.
  2. During this period, the parties are strongly encouraged to continue to conference in order to resolve cases, where appropriate.
  3. Under no circumstances should a person appear in Court or at the courthouse who is experiencing symptoms of any illness. The Court will have the capability to conduct hearings in person, telephonically, and electronically. Notwithstanding the limits placed on the Courts in the interest of public health, employees, including chambers staff, will be teleworking between this date and May 11,2020 and are available by phone or email. Electronic filings shall continue to be made through the District Clerk's office.
  4. Designation of Essential Civil Court Matters: Essential Civil Court matters include any matters where there is immediate harm to liberty, life, limb, or property.
    1. Any Essential Civil Court matter shall be calendared with the Court Administrator for the court where it is assigned.
    2. All requested hearings shall contact, via electronic mail, with the Court Administrator of the court where the case is assigned and provide the following information:
      1.  Cause number and name of Defendant
      2.  Necessity of setting
      3. . Need for an interpreter or other accommodation
    3. Phones/contacting the courts: Contact the corresponding court's website for up-to-date contact information. Phones will be set up to forward to offsite locations if necessary.
  5. 5. Parties are encouraged to submit contested motions on a submission docket where available. Contested motions to be heard on submission are:
    1. Summary Judgments
    2. Matters agreed to be heard on submission by the parties with permission of the court.
  6. Please check with each court regarding the scheduling of uncontested matters. Each court has the availability to conduct hearings through a virtual courtroom. Please contact each court for their availability to conduct a virtual/electronic hearing. These platforms include CourtCall and Microsoft Teams

The Court reminds counsel and the public that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the District Courts function effectively and efficiently during this disaster period. As this situation continues to evolve, this order may be modified or extended. 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. All are requested to exercise patience in this unprecedented situation. Notwithstanding

This order shall be filed with the Williamson County District Clerk and shall be published on the "All District Courts" webpage.

IT IS SO ORDERED THIS 18th DAY OF MARCH 2O2O

Click here for the signed version

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