PHOTO: A Zoom video feed is displayed on the projector screens at the Municipal Court courtroom, 107 W. Juan Linn St., allowing defendants to appear remotely during an in-person court session.
The City of Victoria Municipal Court will host its first hybrid virtual/in-person hearings July 12 as the court continues to adapt its services to meet the needs of the public.
Defendants who are summoned to appear in court for a scheduled docket or a bench trial will be able to choose between attending in person at the Municipal Court building, 107 W. Juan Linn St., or virtually through Zoom.
“As we safely reopen the court to in-person attendance, we want to be mindful that the virtual hearings have been more convenient for many people, especially out-of-town defendants,” said Municipal Court Judge Vanessa Heinold. “The new hybrid format will help to improve access to justice by allowing defendants to choose the option that fits their needs.”
The decision aligns with guidance from the statewide Office of Court Administration, which recommends that courts continue to provide a virtual option as they transition back to in-person proceedings.
Open court dockets will remain exclusively virtual to help limit the number of people in the courtroom. Pretrial sessions, in which a defendant meets with a prosecutor, will also be held remotely. The court will continue to provide accommodations to defendants who do not have access to attend virtual court sessions.
The court previously announced that it was preparing to host fully remote jury trials, but officials are now looking into the possibility of hosting jury trials in a hybrid format. The court does not have any pending jury trials at this time.
The general public will not be permitted to attend hearings in person. Residents can watch court proceedings live on YouTube at Victoria Municipal Court.
For more information about Municipal Court policies, contact the court at 361-485-3050 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.victoriatx.gov/municipalcourt.