Gregg Co. Courthouse streamlines jury process

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Newly-installed Gregg County District Clerk Trey Hattaway and his staff in the Longview courthouse are making key modifications to procedures for local jurors.

First, Hattaway said this week, the start time will be a half-hour earlier, at 8:30 a.m. instead of 9 a.m.

“The goal is to get all juries seated by noon,” he noted. “Lots of times, if it drags out a little bit, it may be 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. before we actually know who the jury is for a specific trial. So, it’s hard to start a trial that day.

“This may allow us to get trials started quicker,” potentially easing the time commitment for those summoned. “This way, if they aren’t selected, we’ve only taken up a morning of their time.”

There’s also a new ‘Gregg County District Clerk’ Facebook page to simplify communication.

The justice process is always in motion, Hattaway said.

“Sometimes, knowing just that juries are going to be selected provides incentives for people to settle their case, whether it be a civil or a criminal trial,” he added. In that case, “We may get notice at the last minute from the courts that they don’t need any juries. We’re trying to find ways to let jurors know that we don’t need their service.”

Likewise, a new jury summons hotline – 903-234-3155 – will have up-to-date information on cancellations and other changes.

“The best time for people to start checking that number is after 5 p.m. on Friday. They’re setting dockets and things are usually still in flux from mid- to late-afternoon on Fridays.”

Another new procedure will ease a potential juror’s means of communicating an exemption.

For example, “A lot of times people have medical issues” that aren’t an automatic dismissal: “The judge is the only one that can absolve them from service.”

The office has established a ‘triage’ system to simplify that process.

“They’ll check in,” Hattaway said, “and they can visit with a judge before they go in and get seated.”

It’s more efficient for the whole system, he added, vetting jurors in advance rather than disqualifying them later in the process.

For more information, call the office at 903-237-2659.

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