El Pasoans with any pending legal proceedings will continue to be unable to have their hearings or trials heard in-person at the County Courthouse.

Currently, the State of Texas has indicated that the decision to hold and/or resume face-to-face hearings or trials must be signed off on by local health authorities.  In the case of El Paso County, Dr. Ocaranza and the health department have cited the current state of the COVID pandemic in the county as the driver for determining that the threshold for allowing legal matters to be heard at the courthouse has not been met.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that all in-person trials, hearings, and such are postponed until further notice.  As has been the case, many of these proceedings will continue to be held remotely whenever possible although there is an exception for “essential matters that cannot be heard remotely.”

It’s not entirely clear how much of this was part of the reason why the hearing for Patrick Crusius, who is currently accused of the Cielo Vista Walmart mass shooting was rescheduled from February 1, 2020 to May 3.  That particular case is being heard in Federal court, but they are also prosecuting on a “parallel track with state officials.”

Judge David Guaderrama has indicated that in addition to COVID-19, there is also “the need for investigation and/or preparation of the defense due to complex discovery.”

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