Politics

Harris County Delays Hundreds Of Trials Due To Harvey Damage

The Criminal Justice Center suffered extensive flood damage. Trials are being postponed, until new jury facilities can be set up and potential jurors notified where to go when summoned. That’s expected to take more than a month.

Harris County Criminal Justice Center

Harris County’s court system is delaying jury trials a month or more in the wake of Harvey. Courtrooms and offices suffered extensive flood damage, and county officials are scrambling to relocate.

The Criminal Justice Center will be closed for up to nine months. District Clerk Chris Daniel says the jury assembly room is a total loss. Finding a replacement for that will delay about 900 criminal trials by more than a month.

“We have to have time for the jury summons to actually go out with the new information on it to the folks that are being summoned so that they can, a) get timely notice of the summons, and b) know where the new place is to go to. If we just relied on who could show up right now, we’d have mass chaos,” says Daniel.

Defendants out on bond won’t be penalized if they’ve missed a court date because of Harvey. Judge Paula Goodhart urges them to contact their attorneys or County Pretrial Services to reschedule. “The message that the court and the criminal judiciary wants to send to folks out there who have pending cases is do not be afraid to come to court,” says Goodhart.

Criminal courts are relocating to the Civil Courthouse and the Juvenile Justice Center. That’s leading to a crunch in courtroom space, delaying civil cases until November 1

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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