Court Updates

Updated 3-27-2020 @ 11:00 a.m.

TRAVIS COUNTY

MISDEMEANORS

Click for Travis County Misdemeanor Email Addresses (& Court Assignments)

Memo from CC Judges on Misdemeanor Courts Operations During COVID-19 Emergency (Dated 3-19-2020)

JP Court Standing Order (Dated 3-17-20)

Juvenile Court Standing Order (Dated 3-16-20) (For now, juvenile court is only holding court on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. All hearings will be at 10:00 a.m.)

Procedures for Bond Review Docket (sent out 3-22-20)

Procedures for MH Special Review Docket (sent 3-23-20)

Mental Health Cases: (Excerpt from Carrie Peace email dated 3-20-20)

For right now, the updates Mallory is providing are crucial and appreciated. I am sharing the Integral Care notes on the defendants that she provides during our skeleton crew staffing. And, Jeff has noted MCOT referrals. The county is working feverishly on video conferencing. It’s close, but not quite up and running just yet. I asked the Judge about this the other day and who all should be included once this has been put into place. She believes, for the moment at least, that not having too many people on that video call is necessary. Court Administration has explained that during the simulations completed so far, the more number of people on the call the more complex and time consuming each call becomes.

Carrie Peace, (512) 854-6222, Caroline.Peace@traviscountytx.gov

Mallory Hakes, Mallory.Hakes@IntegralCare.org

Elizabeth Baker, 512-804-3230, Elizabeth.Baker@integralcare.org

FELONIES

Spreadsheet from the DA’s office with court schedules (Dated 3-19-20 *note: downloads in excel format)

Standing Order on the Execution of Warrants for Certain Cases (does not apply to 331st)

Filing of SIGNED orders in felony cases. Email SIGNED order to DC-Criminal@traviscountytx.gov. This does not impact the e-filing requirement in any way.

General Felony Court Rules:

All out of custody cases are being reset until after May 8th. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” meaning that the coordinators will reset the cases and the attorneys do not need to call in or ask for resets. If the new date does not work for the attorney, the attorney can request a new date. Some coordinators may advise the attorneys of the new dates via email as they work through the dockets for the coming weeks, but we can and should check the online docket for new dates frequently. Some cases may not be officially reset until closer to the current date (especially for Mag Court which has 3 dockets and irregular settings – at least for SPRD) so don’t panic just keep checking. We want to minimize people coming to the courthouse unnecessarily, so do not come to reset a case; however, if you need to resolve an out of custody case, you can request it be set on one of the Court’s jail docket days (see below).

Each Court will still have one or more jail dockets each week. BUT, the DA is continuing to work on cases and will be available to negotiate with attorneys, so if a case is going to be resolved or a hearing is necessary, the defense attorney can REQUEST that the client be transported to that setting. But, if the attorney knows that the case will NOT be resolved then they can and should email in ADVANCE for a RESET and not appear.

The judges are available via phone and email and considering bonds. If the Judge is presented with a bond that they would otherwise grant, but the Defendant has not signed, the Judge will release the Defendant via a judge’s card and defense counsel can get the client’s signature after release, explain the bond conditions and then turn in the bond.

(Note, 331st has not confirmed these rules and the 147th will not have court for the next two week)

147th: Email from Judge Brown dated 3-18-20 Inasmuch as we are in unprecedented times in our nation I have decided to cancel all remaining dockets in the 147th District Ct. at least until no earlier than April 6th. We previously had postponed all non-jail settings as well as jury trials until after May 8th. I believe that as these are in fact extraordinary times we need to take extraordinary action. After careful consideration, I do not find it prudent at this point to continue to transport inmates to court. I believe doing so places many at risk including the inmates, deputies, court staff, attorneys as well as other person’s interested in Court proceedings such as family members of both victim’s and inmates who often attend Court. We could very well be doing that which we all fear; that is introducing the COVID-19 virus into our jails. I will continue to assess this decision as we gather more information from our medical professionals concerning the community spread of this virus. From everything I have gathered thus far, the next two weeks are the tipping point for us to lessen the spread of this virus by adhering to the best advice of medical professionals and the National, State and Local directives concerning public gatherings and social distancing. Please know that the Court will maintain normal business hours and we will be available upon the request of any attorney to set a case for any essential purpose such as plea’s, sentencing’s or any other matter you deem necessary. Based on new technology that has been recently implemented in our criminal courts we are now able to conduct hearings via video teleconferencing with electronic signature capabilities. This will prevent the need to transport any inmates to the courthouse while simultaneously protecting the constitutional rights of all parties. I have encouraged all attorney’s to continue business as usual in negotiating resolution of all your cases. Also, the court is available to hear any request for release on personal bond according to our standard practices.

For all cases set thru April 6th you should have already received a correspondence from our Court Coordinator Jeanette Deleon (512-854-9311) ( Jeanette.Deleon@traviscountytx.gov<mailto:Jeanette.Deleon@traviscountytx.gov>) giving you the reset date. Should that date not be convenient, if you haven’t already done so please reach out to Jeanette and she will happily work with you to find a mutually convenient reset date. We plan to revisit this decision concerning jail cases in two weeks and will keep you apprised of any potential operational changes in the 147th District Court.

331st – (3-20-20) No docket on Monday, March 23, 2020. Cases are being reset to a later date.

427th: Not In Custody Clients: All non-custody cases have been moved to May 11th or after. Having said that if you and your client want to come to a Friday docket to do a plea then that is fine with us. Email Blanca for that setting. Jury Cases: Jury cases have all been moved to Docket May 28th for June 1 selection. If this does not work for you then we will figure it out when we get past this pandemic. No one stress!

450th – (3-19-20 email from Judge Urrutia) We currently have only two dockets scheduled both of which are limited to jail cases. The first is next Friday, March 27th and the second on March 31st also a jail docket. ALL out of jail cases are reset for after May 8th. Going forward we will only have dockets on Tuesdays and only for jail cases. We are testing video pleas for jail cases through Zoom and I am encouraged that it will help but finalizing the process may take a few days or a week. Also, Sonya is working hard on getting notices out to each of you with dates. If the reset date does not work for you, please contact the court. PLEASE BE PATIENT WITH HER. She has had to change what she is doing with regard to resets many times based on the rapidly changing information we have received from the State, County, and City. As for jury trials, in custody jury trials have been reset until May 18th. All out of custody jury trials will be reset as well to June 8th or June 22nd according to communications with the parties. Again be patient with Sonya.

460th – (3-20-20) The 460th District Court is suspending ALL IN-COURT DOCKETS. This court policy is in line with Texas Office of Court Administration recommendations which are “that (courts) continue to delay in-person proceedings of any size until at least May 1” When video conferencing is available in our jurisdiction as a workable alternative to in-person proceedings, the 460th team is ready to immediately resume court business electronically. However, until that time, the risk to the health of staff, courthouse employees and inmates is too great.

Magistrate Court: Starting this week (March 23rd) Judge Kocurek will be handling the Mag Docket and the SJ Docket in her courtroom. Docket is Tuesday and Thursday and will held in the 390th starting at 1:30. Judge Grizzard will continue to handle the MH docket, which is mostly virtual at this time, and is available to consider bonds and other matters remotely.

PRETRIAL SERVICES / JAIL RELEASE

Standing Order for Personal Bonds on certain felony cases in Travis County

Email from Stacy Brown, Pretrial Division Director dated 3-21-20:

Pretrial Services (PTS) will begin the process of releasing Personal Bond packets electronically via DocuSign on Saturday, 3/21/20. Due to staffing levels and the need for staff training, this will be done on a limited basis, during the hours of 8am-5pm, on Saturday and Sunday with extended implementation on Monday 3/23/20.

This process may be initiated by a Judge or by the Attorney of Record. Signed Personal Bonds will be returned to PTS via DocuSign for processing. PTS will then submit the completed Personal Bond and applicable condition forms to the jail. We recognize this is a new process and would welcome any feedback. Please see below for further details.

Judge’s Request: The Judge may request an electronic version of a personal bond by sending an email to Bonds.PretrialServices@traviscountytx.gov and include the following identifying information:

· Defendant name

· Booking Number

· Cause Number

· Conditions of Bond – PTS recommended conditions will be on bond. If specific conditions are known at time of request, PTS will update the Condition Order Form prior to uploading documents. Note, conditions can be added removed once received electronically as described below.

The Bond packet, which includes the Personal Bond, Condition Order Form, and Pretrial Investigation Report, will be emailed to the Judge via DocuSign. Once the Judge receives the DocuSign email, the Judge will be prompted to sign and date on the Judge’s signature line on the Personal Bond. If there are any recommended bond conditions, the Judge will be prompted to sign and date on the Judge’s signature line on the Condition Order Form. For now, if the Judge would like to remove or add bond conditions, this can be done in the text box that will be located in the Other Conditions section of the Condition Order Form. If there is nothing written in the Other Conditions section, the recommended conditions will remain.

Attorney of Record’s Request:

The Attorney of Record may also request an electronic version of a personal bond by sending an email to Bonds.PretrialServices@traviscountytx.gov and include the following identifying information:

· Attorney of Record

· Defendant Name

· Booking Number

· Additional Information relevant to the Personal Bond or investigation

· Judge who bond will be sent, if known

The Bond packet, which includes the Personal Bond, Condition Order Form, and Pretrial Investigation Report, will be emailed to the attorney via DocuSign, and when applicable, a particular Judge. In this scenario, an attorney may have already discussed the bond with a Judge who would be included in the DocuSign email sequence in order to obtain their signature.

We hope this process will assist the Courts with completing bonds in a more efficient manner by minimizing or eliminating the need to need to print and then scan the PR documents back to PTS. Please feel free to send bond related questions or requests to the new email address: Bonds.PretrialServices@traviscountytx.gov

Finally, PTS will soon follow with creating a similar process for completing PR bond Motion Offs electronically using DocuSign. Information will be sent once this has been established.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY

All jury trials have been cancelled through April 1, 2020. Courts hearing individual cases will send information to the bar regarding restructuring of criminal dockets.

MISDEMEANORS

Standing Order from County Court At Law Judges (dated 3-19-2020)

County Court #1: Per coordinator, not many cases set in March and settlement week is 3/30 – 4/3 so no cases set that week anyway. Click HERE for list of rescheduled court dates sent out 3-17-20.

County Court #2: Coordinator says she will be resetting all criminal cases in March, other than jail cases. They will be reset about 8 weeks.

3-20-20 email from Flor: I have received direction from Judge Barker on cases that are set in April.

Judge Barker wants the defense attorneys to continue to work their cases with the county attorney’s office. All your negotiations must be done outside of court that includes jail cases. If you are ready to plea we will schedule you a court date. If your client is doing jail time or probation your client can plea and reset for sentencing. Attorneys have been requesting to plea for jail time, but the jail is not taking anyone in at this time.

I will be giving the prosecutors all my April dockets so they can start working with you and hopefully have resolutions for some of your clients during these difficult times. I will be resetting cases, but not so blanket as the last one. When you know that your case is not ready or is ready to plea please let me know. I can only have ten people total in the courtroom so that limits how many can be set at a time. We will work to get as many as we can to finalize their cases.

County Court #3: Per coordinator, the only court settings we are holding will be jail call or if there is a plea agreement in place. All attorneys on the docket should have been emailed.

See Judge Arnold’s Memo on Family Cases (dated 3-23-20)

FELONIES

See General Order & Information from Williamson County District Judges (signed 3-17-20)

See Memo from Williamson County District Judges (dated 3-18-2020)

3-21-20 email from Jennifer Tredemeyer:

All dockets are being held in the 26th District Court; however the judges are on a rotating schedule. The judges are all hearing each other’s assigned cases. My understanding is that the judge schedule is as follows, although, subject to change:

Monday morning- Mathews; Monday afternoon King

Tuesday all day- Kennon

Wednesday all day- Kennon

Thursday morning- Mathews; Monday afternoon King

368th: All cases through June 9th have been reset. Click HERE to see reset dates.

277th: From Judge Matthews: Attorneys will each receive a detailed letter from the Criminal District Court Judges with information about upcoming dockets and procedures. In the meantime, this letter is regarding dockets in the 277th for next week. ALL CASES will be reset until the following dates: Tuesday March 17, 2020 will be reset until June 16, 2020 at 9:00 am; Wednesday March 18, 2020 will be reset until June 17, 2020 at 9:00 am; Thursday March 19, 2020 will be reset until June 18, 2020 at 9:00 am

See Matthews Memo re Juvenile Court Operations (Dated 3-23-20)

3-17-20: You will each be receiving a detailed letter from the Criminal District Court Judges with information about upcoming dockets and procedures. In the meantime, this letter is regarding dockets in the 277th for next week. ALL CASES will be reset until the following dates: Wednesday March 25, 2020 will be reset until June 24, 2020 at 9:00 am

26th: All cases have been reset. Click HERE for a chart of resets.

HAYS COUNTY

County Courts: HAYS COUNTY COURTS AT LAW DOCKETS: Effective immediately, Nonessential Hearings and Court Appearances are reset through April 3, 2020. Cases will be given a new date and you will receive notice in the mail of your re-set date, if you have not already been contacted by phone. No warrants shall issue for a failure to appear on those dates. Any party who wishes to enter a plea may do so, safety procedures have been put into place for the courtrooms, including social distancing and disinfecting. We have strongly encouraged the District Attorney’s Office to utilize “plea in absentia” paperwork for appropriate cases. However, that decision is up to the DA’s office. THE HAYS COUNTY COURTS AT LAW CRIMINAL JURY DOCKETS FOR THE WEEKS OF MARCH 23, 2020 AND APRIL 6, 2020 ARE TO BE RESCHEDULED. JURORS WILL NOT BE REQUIRED TO APPEAR. Jail Docket will be held via video conferencing.Through April 3, 2020, the only in-person hearings will be limited to Essential Proceedings. Essential Proceedings will include CPS removal hearings, temporary orders, juvenile detention hearings, family violence protective orders, emergency guardianships, writs of habeas corpus and mental health proceedings. This date may be extended based on recommendations of the OCA, CDC and by Order of the Supreme Court of Texas.

From the Hays County Bar Association:

All cases and settings in District Courts are cancelled until April 12, 2020.

All jury trials are cancelled until May 31, 2020.

All hearings are cancelled in County Court at Law until April 6, 2020.

BASTROP COUNTY

Jennifer has reset all dockets in County Court through April 9th.

See Judge Corbett’s Order

See Judge Campbell’s Order

BURNET COUNTY

By the recommendations set out by the Texas Office of Court Administration, for the safety of the public and court personnel due to the COVID-19 virus, all dockets for the County Court at Law have been canceled through April 10, 2020. All Jury Trial settings have been canceled through April 30, 2020. Please note that these dates are subject to extension should the situation change. If you have a case set during that time, please e-mail Jayme Ingram at jaingram@burnetcountytexas.org to discuss your reset date. The Court will make every effort to reset these cases as quickly as possible. Court personnel will be available during this time for essential court proceedings. Essential Court proceedings include: 1. Temporary Restraining Order requests and hearings; 2. Family Violence Protective Order requests and hearings; and 3. Certain Mental Health proceedings. Hearings may be held, at the Court’s discretion, by telephone or remote appearance. Inquiries to the Court should be e-mailed to the Court Coordinator, Jayme Ingram at jaingram@burnetcountytexas.org as it may become necessary for Court staff to work remotely.

COMAL COUNTY

County Court #1: CCAL#1 has decided to cancel court for this week and next week’s trials. (posted 3-16-20)

County Court #2: Hearings and Court Appearances are cancelled for Tuesday, March 17, 2020; Wednesday, March 18, 2020; Monday, March 30, 2020; Tuesday, March 31, 2020; and Wednesday April 1, 2020. Cases will be re-set and you will receive notice in the mail of your re-set date. No warrants shall issue for a failure to appear on those dates. CRIMINAL JURY DOCKET FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 23, 2020 IS CANCELLED

District Courts: As of 5pm today, March 17th, 2020 all Jury Trials are canceled through May 31st, 2020. Additionally, all Non Jury Dockets are cancelled through April 12th, 2020.

BRAZOS COUNTY

All cases set in the 272nd District Court and the Felony Associate Court for Monday March 16, 2020 are cancelled. Reset notices will be issued at a later date. Court Court at Law No. 1 will be cancelling court/dockets for the Week of March 16, 2020. This will include Associate Court 1 on Monday March 16th and Wednesday, March 18th. All jury Trials set for Monday, March 16, 2020 have been cancelled.

CALDWELL COUNTY

See Letter from District Courts Dated 3-18-20

Jury Trials through May 31st cancelled.

Non Jury dockets through April 12th cancelled.

Essential hearings such as magistration, writs of habeas corpus will be conducted.

STATE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS (i.e. DL Hearings)

ALR Hearings – For Administrative Driver’s License (ALR) hearings that are currently scheduled to take place in-person on or before April 10, 2020, SOAH will issue one or more bulk orders continuing the hearings to another date and giving the parties the opportunity to request to conduct the hearing telephonically

TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE:

TDCJ has suspended all unit visits until further notice. All parole hearings will be conducted by telephone.