McKINNEY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A trial in Collin County on Monday will be the first of its kind in Texas and maybe the nation.
The jury chosen for it will be taking part not from inside the courtroom, but from their homes.
Judges are testing a radical idea to try to get a vital part of the legal system back on track during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first online jury trial planned for next week will be what’s called a summary jury trial.
It’s a civil case where the decision is non-binding, but it is groundbreaking and could help maintain jury trials while stay at home orders and social distancing is required.
“Collin County is the first in the state of Texas that I’m aware of and relatively first in the country there are a few other states that are implementing some pilots,” said Judge Emily Miskel, who presides over the 470th District Court in Collin County,
She is the architect behind much of the planning and logistics for pulling this off.
She says a lot more time and research are needed before we might see any criminal trials conducted this way.
But she says the current public health crisis is forcing the justice system to consider implementing technology much faster and in ways not tried before.
“This is sort of a new world. We have no examples to look at for how to do remote jury trials so Collin County has been very bold and being able to embrace creatively looking at these options to give something a try that hasn’t ever been done before,” said Judge Miskel.
The judge says because courtrooms are public, the are ways to stream virtual trials and she’s looking into how prospective jurors who may not have internet access can still be selected.