Coronavirus: District Judge Announces Changes to Court ProceedingsPress Release
SAN ANGELO, TX – Judge Ben Woodward announced Thursday he will be modifying court procedures to accommodate the current restrictions regarding public gathering procedures. The new suggestions will be in place until May 1, 2020.
“Thank you for your cooperation and assistance during this challenge. I love practicing law and being a judge in West Texas, and the biggest reason is the cooperation and collegiality of the attorneys here. That makes our difficult work more satisfying,” said Woodward in a statement. “Our goal is to resolve disputes and legal problems. With the current restrictions, that will be a bit more difficult to achieve but I am confident we will persevere and accomplish our goal. I will need to implement some new procedures in many cases. For the time being, please be patient and send me any suggestions you may have.”
Any non-essential hearings will be not be held in-person until May 1st. The judge will continue to hear the cases as scheduled, but they will be held with an alternative procedure. This may delay some hearings, but as of this time, they will not be canceled.
Essential proceedings such as criminal magistrate proceedings, CPS removal hearings, Temporary Restraining Orders and Temporary Injunctions, juvenile detention hearings, and family violence protective orders. These proceedings will have a limit on how many people can be inside the courtroom.
Video conferencing will be made available after the State provides a Judiciary license for Zoom streaming service, which is a free service. The system will be put in place by having the judge or someone on the judge's staff will act as "host.” The court will provide parties with a time for the conference and access codes.
The court advises it would be best for all participants to have access to a computer or other device, with a camera and good quality microphone. Those who are unable to connect with a computer, participants can join the conference via telephone. All witnesses must have video and audio.
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