Court Coronavirus Information
- Best Practices for All Court Proceedings During COVID-19 Pandemic (Updated May 2021)
- Petit Juror COVID-19 Pre-Screening Questionnaire
- Remote Juror Questionnaire
- Report: Jury Trials During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Observations & Recommendations (Issued August 2020)
September 24, 2021
Supreme Court Issues New General Emergency Order
The Supreme Court issued the Forty-Third Emergency Order that replaces the previous general emergency order (Fortieth) that is set to expire on October 1. The following are the key items of the new order:
- Discontinues the blanket authority provided by prior Emergency Orders for all courts to modify or suspend any and all deadlines and procedures prescribed by statute, rule, or order;
- Continues justice and municipal courts’ authority to modify or suspend trial-related or pretrial hearing-related deadlines and procedures for a stated period ending no later than April 1, 2022;
- Continues the authority of all courts, without a participant’s consent, to require or allow remote hearings, consider sworn statements made out of court or sworn testimony given remotely, conduct proceedings away from the court, require participants to provide certain COVID-related information to the court, and take any other reasonable action to avoid exposing court proceedings and participants to the threat of COVID-19;
- Continues the authority of courts to modify certain procedures and deadlines in CPS cases for certain stated periods of time and clarifies this may be done without a participant’s consent;
- Continues the authority of courts to require remote jury trials without consent, except in jailable criminal cases where consent is required;
- Adds that the chief justices of the courts of appeals and local administrative district judges/municipal court presiding judges have the authority to mandate compliance with the minimum standard health protocols that they adopt for their courtrooms and the public areas of court buildings;
- Requires OCA to continue issuing best practices as necessary.
The Forty-Third Emergency Order is effective on October 1, 2021, and expires on December 1, 2021, unless extended by the Chief Justice.
Supreme Court Issues Emergency Order Extending Eviction Diversion Program
The Supreme Court also issued the Forty-Second Emergency Order extending the Texas Eviction Diversion Program. The order makes the following key changes:
- adds that at the trial of an eviction case, the judge must allow legal aid or volunteer legal services representatives to be present to provide information, advice, intake, referral, or other assistance for eligible litigants, if they are available;
- clarifies that in addition to applying to plaintiffs who have submitted an application for rental assistance, the program also applies to plaintiffs who have provided any information or documentation directly to a rental assistance provider for the purposes of receiving rental assistance; and
- provides that if the judge must dismiss the action because the plaintiff has not filed and served a motion to reinstate an abated action within the abatement period, the judge must dismiss the action the day after the abatement period expires without the need for a party to file a motion or make a request for the court to do so.
Other provisions of the Eviction Diversion program remain the same. The Order is effective immediately and expires on December 1, 2021, unless extended by the Chief Justice.
More than $900 Million in rental assistance has been or is in the process of being provided to more than 153,000 households through the state’s texasrentrelief.com program. That total includes over $112 million in assistance to more than 13,000 households through the Eviction Diversion Program. As a reminder, legal aid lawyer assistance remains available in your court through funding provided by the state. To find out more, contact Lisa Melton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
COVID-19 Case Information
Information regarding the number of new cases in the state and your counties is available on the Department of State Health Services Dashboard. Courts should continue monitoring the local health conditions in conjunction with the local health authority in your community. Individuals who are unvaccinated should continue to be encouraged to wear face coverings and socially distance. Courts retain the authority under the Forty-Third Emergency Order to take reasonable actions to avoid exposing court proceedings and participants to the threat of COVID-19.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact email@example.com