WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — You may have already received one in the mail, but Wichita County is preparing for the return of jury trials. The District Clerk’s office recently sent out 500 juror summons.
“We’ve been looking so forward to it for the courts opening back up, for us to still have jury duty, we’re ready for it,” District Clerk Patti Flores said.
“We anticipate we’ll be very busy, for the next two or three years to tell you the truth,” 89th District Court Judge Charles Bernard said.
The last 15 months, 89th District Court and Barnard heard just one jury trial, a situation he described as an emergency trial, but it gave them the chance to figure out the new process they will continue to use.
“It was successful and it was more successful than i anticipated, we think things will go pretty smoothly,” Barnard said.
Starting with the first trials August 9th, jurors will report to the MPEC for jury selection, then head over to the county courthouse.
And with so many cases backlogged, having those jurors show up is that much more important and has kept Flores and her staff busy.
“You never know, sometimes you send out you know, 450 and you get 200 people that show up, you send out 450 again and you get 100 to show up,” Flores said.
“Trying to take care of old cases and we have new cases arising so it’s very important that we have everyone show up for jury service so we can conduct these jury trials,” Barnard said.
Judge Barnard added a lot of backed up cases were from instances that happened in 2017, and some defendants who can’t post bond have been waiting more than a year for their day in court.
“We are extremely backed up, I had some cases that would’ve been tried by now but for COVID, I can think of 6 or 7 and they are very serious cases,” Barnard said “We want every defendant to have their day in court and we want to be careful and proceed on because we are hopeful we can conduct a lot of jury trials.”
Getting back to what they do, with a long docket ahead.
Judge Barnard also added he anticipates Judge king to begin trials the 9th, possibly along with District’s 30 and 78.
So you’ll continue to see those juror summons sent out, with another trial already scheduled for the 89th starting August 23rd.