LUBBOCK, Texas – Lubbock County could be starting jury trials as soon as the end of October, according to officials.
Judge William R. Eichman II of the 364th District Court said the county submitted a 12-page proposal to the Lubbock Health Department. He said the proposal provides a list of safety protocols and procedures that will be followed for jury trial which also has to be approved in Austin and by the regional judge in Amarillo.
The plan includes social distancing for court administration and jurors.
“In this courtroom we will probably have plexiglass in the middle of council table between the attorneys for the state and the attorneys for the defendant,” Eichman said. “We are also talking about ways to have plexiglass in-between of the jurors.”
In the plan, jurors who do not fit socially distanced will be placed in the gallery where people normally view the trial. There will be a separate courtroom open to people watching the trial, also socially distanced. All jurors will also be given a mask and a face shield.
Judge Eichman said due to growing concern for the pandemic, the number of summons have increased to ensure they will have enough jurors. He said judges are monitoring the pandemic closely.
“If someone is worried about coming down in the general public if they get summoned and they’re really concerned about it they need to let us know,” he said. “We are going to be very willing to reschedule.”
Due to the constant changing nature of the pandemic, Eichman said plans for jury trials could be subject to change, but that they will move forward with the proposal utilizing safety protocols to get it running.
“We also can’t stop jury trials especially for those people that are in jail. They have constitutional rights, ” he said.
He said that it is important to go ahead with jury trials.
“We feel it is our duty to attempt to try some cases, with the proper safety measures,” he said.