Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – SDTX Related Orders (Updated 3/30/2020)
On March 30, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas entered General Order 2020-03: CARES Act Authorization for Video and Audio Conferencing in Criminal Proceedings and General Order 2020-04: Order on Written Waivers of Personal Appearances Under the CARES Act. The court also approved a Waiver of Rights and Consent to Plea/Sentencing by Video Conference form (English and Spanish)
County shelter-in-place orders are in effect throughout the Southern District of Texas.
The courts are exempt, and we will continue to do our job. But to the extent we can, we will minimize the need to require our employees, the lawyers, or the litigants from deviating from the shelter-in-place orders. Those steps will likely include deferring any non-essential in-court appearances or having them occur by telephone conference, Skype, or similar technology
The clerks’ office will have a much reduced staff, enough to keep up with processing the mail and with intake needs. Docketing and most other tasks will be handled remotely.
The bankruptcy judges have invoked their Protocol for Emergency Public Health or Safety Conditions and agreed to conduct most hearings by telephone or video conference, rather than bring attorneys or their clients into the courthouses. Chief Bankruptcy Judge Jones has also authorized the use of alternative means (telephone or video) to conduct certain meetings between attorneys and their clients that are otherwise required to be in person.
At bottom, we will do our jobs. We will provide the services we are obligated to provide. But thanks to our IT staffs, we can do much of this by remote work and provide our staff and the public a way for them to comply with the public health directive.
Houston/Galveston Division civil and criminal jury trials are deferred through May 1, 2020.
Other Deadlines and settings remain in place pending further order by each judge in specific cases or by standing order.