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It’s Dangerous Out There: COVID-19 in Texas Court

The Eastern District of Texas has been steadfast in pushing forward with scheduled jury trials. Last week, a trial began before Judge Amos Mazzant in Sherman.  It has not concluded. Texas Lawyer reports:

Multiple court participants, including a lawyer and juror, have become infected with COVID-19 during a federal jury trial, causing the judge to put the case on pause.

US District Judge Amos Mazzant of Sherman paused the jury trial upon learning of the first coronavirus diagnosis, which occurred sometime in the last 48 hours.

Because others involved in the trial are still getting tested for the virus, it’s not yet clear how many people in the trial became infected, said court clerk David O’Toole of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. He did confirm that multiple court participants became sick.

“At least one of them was a juror,” said O’Toole. “There was at least one lawyer involved who tested positive. We want to be very careful not to identify people by name or their role, which would make figuring out who it was fairly obvious.”

O’Toole declined to comment when asked if Mazzant had tested positive. Mazzant declined to comment through his judicial assistant, Terri Scott.

“It is not appropriate for Judge Mazzant to talk to the press about an ongoing case,” said an email by Scott.

The Sherman courthouse is closed for sanitization, and O’Toole said he expected it to reopen on Nov. 16. The thorough, deep cleaning will focus on all of the areas of the courthouse where the trial participants spent time, O’Toole said.

Following a death in a juror’s family, the jury was already down to six before this disruption.

© 2022 McDermott Will & EmeryNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 318
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