Understanding COVID Court Rules in Smith County
The Texas Supreme Court has prohibited courts from conducting non-essential proceedings in person at least until May 1, 2020. Smith County courts are conducting hearings by video conferencing through Zoom software.
All video conferencing court proceedings will be broadcast over the Court’s YouTube channel which will satisfy the Open Courts Provision of the Texas Constitution. Prior to the hearing, the Court will send an email inviting all attorneys, witnesses, and staff to the Zoom meeting.
Is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice accepting new inmates from county jails across Texas?
TDCJ is the department of the State of Texas responsible for the statewide criminal justice for adult offenders including managing the State’s prisons. As of Monday, April 13th, the Texas prison system is no longer taking new inmates from county jails. There are a number of state prisoners who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Officials believe that this new action will allow the TDCJ to fight the virus without further exposing state inmates.
Will this new State policy affect the local county jails?
Yes, this will place a burden on our county jails. All of the inmates who are awaiting transfer to TDCJ will remain in the county jail until further notice. County jails across the state will now have to come up with ideas on how to manage their own populations. In some areas of Texas, local law enforcement agencies are deciding to not arrest offenders for certain nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. For example, if a person is accused of a misdemeanor offense of criminal trespass or criminal mischief, officers can conduct a full investigation and obtain an arrest warrant at a later time.
If you have any further questions regarding your criminal defense case in Texas or any questions regarding the impact the coronavirus has had on our criminal justice system please contact us today at Rollings Wood & Pace.