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Texas Supreme Court Advisory

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2020 | Business Law

Court Issues Amended Coronavirus Emergency Order

The amended order extends deadlines, allows testing jury proceedings

In its 17th emergency order issued Wednesday the Texas Supreme Court amended existing provisions from the omnibus emergency April 27 order.

Deadlines extended. Extending no later than September 30 the time when Texas courts may modify or suspend deadlines for civil and criminal cases (except in child-welfare cases).

Deadlines in child-welfare cases. In all proceedings in child-welfare and parental-rights termination cases, courts may modify or suspend a deadline or procedure imposed by statute, rule or order for a period not to exceed 180 days and extend the dismissal date for any case previously retained on a court’s docket for no longer than 180 days.

Continued remote proceedings. Continue to permit remote proceedings for all participants, including by this order trial jurors. But if courts hold in-person proceedings, those proceedings must follow guidance by the Office of Court Administration regarding social distancing, maximum group size and other restrictions and precautions. Before holding in-person proceedings, no earlier than June 1, a court must submit a plan consistent with the Office of Court Administration’s Guidance for All Court Proceedings issued May 4.

No jury proceedings before August 1, generally. A court must not hold a jury proceeding, including jury selection or a jury trial, before August 1, except as authorized by this order.

Provision for limited jury proceedings. The Office of Court Administration, in coordination with the state’s regional presiding judges and local administrative judges, should assist trial courts in a limited number of jury proceedings before August 1, whether in-person or by remote proceedings involving trial and grand jurors. No later than July 31 the Office of Court Administration must report to the Court on recommendations for jury proceedings.

Civil service and filing deadlines extended. Any deadline for the filing or service of any civil case that falls on a day between March 13 and July 1 is extended until August 15. This does not include deadlines for perfecting appeal or for other appellate proceedings, requests for relief from which should be directed to the court involved and should be generously granted.

Grand juries may meet remotely or in-person. Existing grand juries may meet remotely or in-person as long as adequate social distancing and other restrictions and precautions are taken to ensure the health and safety of court staff, parties, attorneys, jurors and the public. Courts should consider extending a grand jury’s term under Texas Government Code section 24.0125 and reassembling discharged grand juries under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 19.41.

Other deadlines. All deadlines, whether by statute, rule or order, that expired or would have expired between March 13 and July 1, are extended until August 15 in attorney professional-disciplinary and -disability proceedings and those relating to the issuance or renewal of certifications, licenses or registrations issued by the Judicial Branch Certification Commission, or for fulfilling mandatory continuing education.

This latest emergency order expires July 31 unless the chief justice extends it.