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The courthouse shuffle

Justice rearranged.

Flood waters damaged several buildings in the courthouse complex , which is spread across a dozen city blocks in north downtown. The county’s shiny new underground jury assembly building flooded, but the biggest casualty was probably the destruction that has closed the 20-story criminal justice center for at least six to nine months. The loss is immense because the building housed the entire district attorney’s office, an agency of 330 lawyers and almost 400 staffers, the public defenders office and 40 courtrooms, staffed with clerks, coordinators, court reporters and others.

The reason it is such a hardship to relocate is because each of those courtrooms had holding cells and access to private elevators so inmates could be brought securely from the Harris County Jail across Buffalo Bayou in tunnels and bridges without any contact with the public.

With the loss of that building, the county’s 22 felony courts have doubled up in courtrooms in the civil courthouse, pushing the civil, family and probate courts together.

Since there are few if any holding cells in the relocated courts, the people in jail are expected to have court in jailhouse courtrooms with revolving dockets. The very few holding cells will likely be reserved for trials when jury selection resumes Sept. 25.

Jury service is suspended through the 22nd – see here for more information about that, or call the District Clerk at (832)927-5800 if you have questions about that. That same link has information about the court dockets if you have an appearance coming up, as does this link. Expect things to be a little chaotic and more than a little cramped going forward, but we will get through this.

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5 Comments

  1. Glenn says:

    Expect the DA to be moving every case they can.

  2. Chris Daniel says:

    Jury Service for all Harris County courts except Justice of the Peace, suspended/ cancelled through Oct. 13. Resumes Oct 16.

  3. Mike Sullivan says:

    Chris: So, if someone had jury duty in May and had it reset to October 13th, do they disregard the new date (of October 13) and simply wait to be called again sometime in the future?

    Thanks.

    Mike Sullivan.

  4. Mike Sullivan says:

    Chris: So, if someone had jury duty in May and had it reset to October 13th, do they disregard the new date (of October 13) and simply wait to be called again sometime in the future?

    Thanks.

    Mike Sullivan.

  5. Chris Daniel says:

    Yes, Mike Sullivan. They will not be called again until the “wheel” is reset–the database of names.

  6. Chris Daniel says:

    Yes, Mike Sullivan. They will not be called again until the “wheel” is reset–the database of names.

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