COVID UPDATE: Info from Dallas Co. Judges as of 06/10/2021

We are working to confirm and compile new policies and protocols from courts, jails, probation departments, etc. Thank you to all of you who have reported to us what you’ve learned from your contacts and court experiences.

Info from the Dallas Co. Courts as June 10, 2021:

Felony Courts:

CDC 1: No Response

CDC 2: No Response

CDC1: Did not respond

CDC2: Did not respond

CDC3: Emailed pass slips will be accepted. Judge Riley is open to appearing in person and virtually. If an attorney needs to appear virtually he/she may do so, unless one party opposes. If one party opposes then they will schedule a hearing.

CDC4: Did not respond

CDC5: Did not respond

CDC6: Judge Howard responded to my email that she will have information to me by June 1st.

CDC7: Emailed or electronically signed pass slips will still be allowed, so long as all parties signed. In-person appearance is not required for non-dispositive settings. However, it may be required to set up ATRS/PSI, unless both parties provide probation with the necessary documentation electronically ahead of time. Unless otherwise determined by the Supreme Court and the Office of Administration, CDC7 will continue to implement a combination of virtual and in-person proceedings. Therefore, agreed matters may continue to be scheduled/heard on Zoom.

194th: Did not respond

195th: Did not respond

203rd: Email pass slips will still be used as well as the traditional pass slips if attorneys are in the building. MASK WILL BE REQUIRED FOR ALL BUSINESS IN THE 203RD. Prior to and on June 1st persons are welcome to appear in person in the courtroom. We will continue to practice social distancing and limit the amount of persons inside of the courtroom for everyone’s health and safety. As in the past, on jail and bond 1st settings all persons will be expected to appear in person. After the initial 1st setting with bond cases the Defendant’s appearance can be waived at 2nd and 3rd setting. If case is not disposed of then all parties will appear at 4th setting for a status up date. On jail cases the defendant will appear at each setting. On cases with extensive passes a case status hearing will be set for both the defense and state attorneys to appear to appraise the court of the progress on the case.

Judge Jones will continue to utilize Zoom as well as in person appearances. It will more than likely be a 60/40 split with in person and remote proceedings starting June 1st.!Jury selection will occur in the central jury room on select dates. Our pretrial dates for jury trials will be scheduled 30 days out from the date of trial. Due to the limited number of jurors willing to participate in jury trials, trial pleas will need to occur at the 30 day setting unless extenuating circumstances exist. !

204th: Did not respond

265th: Did not respond

282nd: Did not respond

283rd: See attached document.

291st: Did not respond

292nd: Judge Birmingham will be on the bench by 9:00 AM every workday. We will continue to use Microsoft Teams for remote proceedings, and Adobe Sign for plea papers. Two Court laptops will be set up in the courtroom for plea paperwork or virtual hearings. In particular:

1. Pass Slips: We are going to keep the virtual pass slip system we’ve developed during COVID-19.

2. In court appearances are not required for lawyers in non-dispositive settings. You can be virtual or in person. If you have permission from me, and can represent to me that you’ve had contact with your client, your client does not have to be physically present for non-dispositive settings. I’ll leave it up to your good judgment, and only require that you communicate with the assigned prosecutor and fill out the Pass Slip for Mrs. Esparza. Defendants must be in person for dispositive settings or upon the request of the Court, Mrs. Esparza, the Probation Department, the Pre-trial Department, or if requested by the State and approved by me.

3. Will Pleas be in person? The defendant must be present in person for all pleas. The lawyers can choose whether to be in person or virtual. Please plan ahead and discuss your plea and the appropriate paperwork with your client before the plea. The Court’s schedule is much tighter than it used to be. The days of come-and-go at any time before noon are no longer acceptable.

4. Jury Trials are returning to Frank Crowley. The Office of Judicial Staff Counsel, Judge Collins and a host of others have put together a system for socially-distanced trials. Jury selection returns to Frank Crowley on a rotating basis beginning June 1st. Communication is key. Please let me know if you have any further questions.!

363rd: Did not respond

MISDEMEANOR COURTS:

CCC1: Judge Patterson and Barbara have been at the courthouse pretty much daily since September to try and accommodate as many different needs and situations as possible. That will continue and they will have both in-person and virtual for a while longer. They never required defendant’s appearance on non-dispositive settings except in extraordinary circumstances. Pass slips can be either emailed or handed to Barbara.

CCC2: Did not respond

CCC3: Email pass slips will still be used in this court. There is not a future date at this time that in court appearances are required on non dispositive settings. Pleas can still be scheduled virtually or in person. Either party may request an in-person hearing and the other party has the right to object. The Court will make a ruling on the record. Attorneys and defendants may be required to appear in person for revocation hearings. Attorney would be noticed at the time of the setting.

CCC4:

1. Court business resumes in person June 1st. This includes all business being conducted in person, including pleas, hearings, etc.

2. Masks are encouraged, but not required

3. Virtual hearings and pleas are available upon request, for good cause; i.e., an unvaccinated client or attorney, or an out of state defendant

4. Jury trials will resume with jury selection in the cafeteria; but testimony in the courtroom.

5. Pleas, etc., can be filled out on paper and the court will scan them

6. Please bring your pass slips to Stella.

7. Defendants are expected to appear in court for plea, motion, PVs or trial settings

8. Please only pass PVs for 2 week intervals

CCC5: Judge Green responded that things are changing and will send updates by June

CCC6: Did not respond

CCC7: See attached document

CCC8: Email pass slips will still be used in this court. The court would like defendants to appear in court on the first setting to make sure that the defendant and the attorney have face to face contact. After the first appearance, the defendant’s appearance is waived and the attorney can announce for the defendant. After the 5th pass, the defendant’s appearance can only be waived with permission of the Judge.

The defendant, defense attorney and the state can determine the mechanism in which to plea the case: Teams, In-person, Hybrid Model: some people on Teams and some in person. The court will be open every day for in-person proceedings. The court is instituting the ability to sign the plea paperwork in court on an iPad. Until further notice, there will be one jury trial a month. If you want to set a case to plea, let the prosecutors know and they will schedule it on the calendar. The court will maintain a calendar for pleas and hearings. The pleas and hearings will be set for a specific time. The defense and the prosecutors can determine the setting time.

CCC9: Did not respond

CCC10: Did not respond

CCC11: Judge Kelly is still working out details for post covid procedures and will update as she figures it out. Email pass slips will remain a permanent requirement. The court will run completely paperless. They will begin a hybrid docket on June 22. Both in person and virtual options will be available for pleas. The platform used will be Court Call only. Masks will be required to enter the courtroom and cases must be scheduled in advance.

CCCApp2: Can’t answer all questions at this point until she knows when some of the restrictive orders will be lifted. The court will accept “acceptable” pass slips by email. They will always be open to emailed pass slips unless the case is around 6 months old. Then the defendant needs to appear at his/her setting. Then they can still accept an emailed pass slip, but after the defendant appears in-person or on zoom with his/her attorney for a reset. Judge Luther wants to avoid attorneys simply emailing pass slips and assuming that the case was passed. They will not accept a pass slip (emailed or in-person) that has exceeded its number of passes, etc. Judge Luther would like to get away from zoom pleas and would like to encourage more in person pleas. However, at this point she cannot require anyone to appear in person. They are holding motions by zoom as well as in person. If all people involved consent to in person then it will be in person. If anyone does not want to be in person then the entire motion is via zoom. She does not plan to use CourtCall.

Judge Luther said it would be wonderful if the plea was paperless from start to finish, however, she has a scanner setup up in front of her bench so if defense brings her a paper plea, then they can drop the paperwork in the scanner and it will get emailed to the clerks. Her court is trying to keep procedures as similar to pre-pandemic as possible. There is a zoom link open each day that any attorney can hop on, just as if they were approaching the bench in the courtroom. You can get the zoom link by emailing
kristin.mcdowell@dallascounty.org.