EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — In-person jury trials are still on hold because of COVID-19. Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said they may not resume until next year, creating a bigger backlog.
“We had jury cases on hold before the pandemic,” Rodriguez said.
Although the court continues processing cases there is no alternative for jury hearings yet.
“We’re still presenting cases to grand jurors, and them deciding if the case should go forward or not. We’re disposing some cases,” said Rodriguez.
Calling it a complicated situation, Rodriguez said the Office of Court Administration is debating on hosting jury trials on criminal cases via zoom.
“If we were to get 12 jurors in a box on a felony case via Zoom and you give them the instructions that they’re the only ones that can hear the facts and evidence of the case. Who’s to know that there is not someone in the back of a Zoom trial where we have a 13th juror,” he said.
Despite concerns of the jail population increasing due to the hold on trials, Rodriguez said the community comes first.
“We’re not deciding on cases or hurrying up to decide on cases because of COVID or the pandemic. We will evaluate these cases as best as we can because our responsibility is to make sure there justice across the board but also safety for citizens of Hidalgo County,” he said.
For now there is no timeline when jurors will return to court rooms.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen this year,” Rodriguez stated.
Rodriguez wants to remind residents their offices remain open and continue taking new cases.