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Contact
County Court at Law #1
Williamson County, Texas
405 M.L.K. Street,
Georgetown, TX 78626
Phone: (512) 943-1200
Fax: (512) 943-1204
Driving Directions

Judge Brandy Hallford
County Court at Law 1 Judge
Williamson County, Texas
Phone: (512) 943-1200

 
Modified Court Calendars

In response to the State of Disaster declared by the Governor, and the public health concern associated with the COVID-19 virus, the Texas Association of Court Administration has recommended that courts in the State of Texas modify their calendar for court proceedings to minimize the risk of exposure to court participants, staff and the public. Below outlines information per each docket County Court at Law No. One handles. This information covers all docket through May 8. 2020. 

click here to see the modified court dates.

 
Judge Brandy Hallford, County Court at Law One

Judge Halford Headshot

 
Announcement to the Public and to the Bar

The Judges of Williamson County take the health and safety of the litigants, attorneys, witnesses and staff seriously.Williamson County is monitoring a variety of sources, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, the Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) for the latest updates and recommendations affecting our operations regarding COVID-19. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Williamson County, or surrounding counties.The risk in Texas continues to be ranked low as COVID-19 is not currently spreading in Texas.However, it is important to have a plan.

PREVENTION FIRST:One of the recommended preventative measures is to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Williamson County has a reputation for being forward leaning when facing any challenge, so we have instructed our custodial services to increase their cleaning standards. They already have begun using hospital grade cleaning products and increased cleaning in common areas including wiping down surfaces.

In addition, they will begin cleaning all desks and surfaces that have been cleared off on Friday evenings, so please make sure to clear off your desks or counters. We also will be purchasing hand sanitizer for public areas of county buildings.

Again, the best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like the flu and novel coronavirus are by following these simple steps recommended by the WCCHD:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Get a flu shot. Flu shots are available at no cost through the county health insurance at local pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreen’s and HEB. In addition, the WCCHD will give flu shots to county employees at their clinics.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

DSHS, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Williamson County Emergency Management, Williamson County and Cities Health District and other state and local agencies continue their ongoing preparations so that all of state government is working together to limit the spread of the virus and protect Texans.

This situation is very fluid.Please continue to check the Williamson County and each individual court website for updates about the Williamson County Courts response to COVID-19.Because this is an evolving situation, court processes may change.Please consider the potential exposure to your clients/witnesses who are over the age of 60 or may have underlying medical conditions.Their appearance at the courthouse should be avoided if possible.

 
General Order: Regarding Public Access to Court Proceedings Under the 2020 State of Disaster COVID-19 and Related Coronavirus

This General Order is issued in response to the Local State of Disaster that has been declared by the County Judge of Williamson County, as well as the state of disaster declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States. This General Order is also issued after considering and in conformance with Emergency Orders Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals1.

WHEREAS, the Courts of Williamson County are open, “and every person…shall have remedy by due course of law.” (Tx. Const. Art. I Sec. 13).

WHEREAS, the Courts of Williamson County have determined that there is an overriding or compelling interest to protect the health and safety of the public, parties, and employees of the Court from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and related coronavirus;

WHEREAS, the Courts of Williamson County have determined that the exclusion of the public from in-person court proceedings is essential to reduce the risk to the public, parties, and employees of the Court from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and related coronavirus;

WHEREAS, the Courts of Williamson County have considered that there are reasonable alternatives to total exclusion or closure of court proceedings that will serve the interest of reducing the risk of exposure to COVID19 and related coronavirus while balancing the public’s access to court proceedings.

It is therefore ORDERED that, effective immediately and continuing until further order, if a member of the public desires to observe any court proceedings held in the courts of Williamson County, Texas, the requestor shall contact the court administrator of the court in which the case is scheduled at least 24 hours prior to the date and time of the court hearing to arrange for the requestor to view the proceedings being conducted through remote technology.

Nothing in this order precludes a court in Williamson County from broadcasting hearings in a manner chosen by each individual court.

The contact information for each court administrator is located on Williamson County’s website.1

If you are viewing, please mute your connection to prevent disruption to the court proceedings. VIDEO OR AUDIO RECORDING OF THE PROCEEDINGS IS PROHIBITED.

1 Misc. Docket No. 20-9042 (Tex.) Misc. Docket No. 20-007 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446056/209042.pdf (2. Subject only to constitutional limitations, all courts in Texas may in any case, civil or criminal—and must to avoid risk to court staff, parties, attorneys, jurors, and the public—without a participant’s consent: … b. Allow or require anyone involved in any hearing, deposition, or other proceeding of any kind—including but not limited to a party, attorney, witness, or court reporter, but not including a juror—to participate remotely, such as by teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other means; c. Consider as evidence sworn statements made out of court or sworn testimony given remotely, out of court, such as by teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other means; d. Conduct proceedings away from the court’s usual location, but in the county of venue, and only with reasonable notice and access to the participants and the public; … f. Take any other reasonable action to avoid exposing court proceedings to the threat of COVID-19….” Misc. Docket No. 20-9044 (Tex.) Mics. Docket No. 20-008 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446178/209044.pdf (… “2. With respect to the First Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster issued March 13, 2020: a. Paragraph 2(d) is amended as follows: Conduct proceedings away from the court’s usual location with reasonable notice and access to the participants and the public; … 3. Courts must not conduct non-essential proceedings in person contrary to local, state, or national directives, whichever is most restrictive, regarding maximum group size.”)

Click here to see the signed order

 
Child Welfare Courts Under the 2020 State of Disaster COVID-19 and Related Corona Virus

This General Order is issued in response to the Local State of Disaster that has been declared by the County Judge of Williamson County, as well as the declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States, and in conformance with First Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals (Misc. Docket No. 20-9042 (Tex.) Misc. Docket No. 20-007 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446056/209042.pdf )

The Courts of Williamson County are open, "and every person ... shall have remedy by due course of law." (Tx. Const. Art. I Sec. 13). The Court finds that the State of Disaster requires certain steps to be taken in order to mitigate risk to the health and safety of the public, parties, and employees of the Court, and so it is therefore ORDERED that, effective March 17, 2020 and continuing until May 11, 2020, unless extended by further orders:

  1. Due to the limitations on mass gatherings limiting the Courts' ability to impanel juries, all jury trials in ALL CHILD WELFARE COURT matters scheduled through May 11, 2020 are CONTINUED without prejudice to either party and, consistent with the directive of the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals, this Court finds that the ends of justice are served by this continuance.
  2. During this period, the parties are strongly encouraged to continue to conference in order to resolve cases, where appropriate.
  3. Under no circumstances should a person appear in Court or at the courthouse who is experiencing symptoms of any illness. The Court will have the capability to conduct hearings in person, telephonically, and electronically. Notwithstanding the limits placed on the Courts in the interest of public health, employees, including chambers staff, will be teleworking between this date and May 11, 2020 and are available by phone or email. Electronic filings shall continue to be made through the District Clerk's office.
  4. Designation of Essential CHILD WELFARE COURT Matters: Essential CHILD WELFARE COURT matters include any matters where there is immediate harm to liberty, life, limb, or property.
    1. Any Essential Civil Court matter shall be calendared with the Court Administrator for the court where it is assigned.
    2. Essential CHILD WELFARE COURT matters are as follows:
      1. CPS Removals
      2. Adversary Hearings
    3. All requested hearings shall contact, via electronic mail, with the Court Administrator of the court where the case is assigned and provide the following information:
      1. Cause number and name of Parties
      2. Necessity of setting
      3. Need for an interpreter or other accomodation
    4. Phones/contacting the courts: Contact the corresponding court's website for up-to-date contact information. Phones will be set up to forward to offsite locations if necessary.
    5. We understand that during this difficult emotional time there will be family tensions requiring Court action. Please do not hesitate to contact the courts regarding matters, financial or child related that are emergencies.
  5. Please check with each court regarding the scheduling of any urgent matter. Each court has the availability to conduct hearings through a virtual courtroom. Please contact each court for their availability to conduct a virtual/electronic hearing. These platforms include CourtCall and Microsoft Teams.

The Court reminds counsel and the public that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the District Courts function effectively and efficiently during this disaster period. As this situation continues to evolve, this order may be modified or extended. We take seriously our obligation to balance the interest of justice and the health and safety of our courthouse community and the community at large. All are requested to exercise patience in this unprecedented situation. Notwithstanding

This order shall be filed with the Williamson County District Clerk and shall be published on the "All District Courts" webpage.

IT IS SO ORDERED THIS 18th DAY OF MARCH 2020

 
Spring Break Standard Possession Order

In an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), local school districts have or are considering school closures after the spring break. Consequently, the Williamson County Courts have been receiving inquiries requesting guidance for parents whose children are due back after spring break.

The Standard Possession Schedule contained in most divorce and SAPCR orders is based on the school calendar. This means the possession schedule should be read in conjunction with the school calendar: where the child goes to school; or for the school district in which the child resides, if the child is not yet in school. In entering these orders, it was unforeseen that spring break for area schools might be extended because of a pandemic illness, such as COVID-19.

In situations like the present one, for purposes of interpretation of the order, the original school calendar determines the possession schedule. School closures, which may have the net effect of extending the spring break, should not be used by the visiting parent to extend his or her possession period with the child. The child is due back to the other parent at the time spring break ends according to the original school calendar.

 
Family Courts Under the 2020 State of Disaster COVID-19 and Related Coronavirus

This General Order is issued in response to the Local State of Disaster that has been declared by the County Judge of Williamson County, as well as the declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States, and in conformance with the First Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals. (Misc. Docket No. 20-9042 (Tex.) Misc. Docket No. 20-007 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446056/209042. pdf)

The Courts of Williamson County are open, "and every person...shall have remedy by due course of law." (Tx. Const. Art. I Sec. 13). The Court finds that the State of Disaster requires certain steps to be taken in order to mitigate risk to the health and safety of the public, parties and employees of the Court, and so it is therefore ORDERED that, effective March 17, 2020 and continuing until May 11, 2020, unless extended by further orders:

  1. Due to the limitations on mass gatherings limiting the Courts' ability to impanel juries, all jury trials in ALL FAMILY COURT matters scheduled through May 11, 202 are CONTINUED without prejudice to either party and, consistent with the directive of the Supreme Court of Texas and the Cort of Criminal Appeals, this Court finds that the ends of justice are served by this continuance.
  2. The Family Courts recommend that all non-essential hearings be rescheduled.
  3. where During this appropriate. period, the parties are strongly encouraged to continue to conference in order to resolve cases, where appropriate.
  4. In the best interest of the community and in the interest of public health please do not attempt to visit the Williamson County Courthouse in person for any family court matter without direct communication with the court. The court will have the capability to conduct hearings telephonically, and electronically. Check the webpages of the individual courts regarding information on virtual courtroom capabilities. Notwithstanding the limits placed on the Courts in the interest of public health, employees, including chambers staff, will be teleworking between this date and May 11, 2020 and are available by phone or email. Electronic filings shall continue to be made through the District Clerk's office.
  5. Designation of Essential Family Court Matters: Essential Family Court matters include any matters where there is immediate harm to liberty, life, limb, or property.
    1. Any Essential Civil Court matter shall be calendared with the Court Administrator for the court where it is assigned.
    2. B.    Essential Family Court matters are as follows:
      1. Family Violence Protective Orders
      2. Family Temporary Restraining Orders
      3. CPS Removals
      4. Judicial Bypass cases and appeals
    3. All requested hearings shall contact, via electronic mail, with the Court Administrator of the court where the case is assigned and provide the following information:
      1. Cause number and name of Parties
      2. Necessity of setting
      3. Need for an interpreter or other accommodation
    4.  Phones/contacting the courts: Contact the corresponding court's website for up-to-date contact information. Phones will be set up to forward to offsite locations if necessary.
    5. We understand that during this difficult emotional time there will be family tensions requiring Court action. Please do not hesitate to contact the courts regarding matters, financial or child related that are emergencies.
  6. Parties are encouraged to submit contested motions on a submission docket where available. Contested motions to be heard on submission are:
    1. Agreed matters
    2. Agreed Uncontested Divorces: Please complete the attached Statement of Evidence along with the Agree Final Decree of Divorce and submit either through e-file or directly to the court by email to the Court Administrator
    3. Matters agreed to be heard on submission by the parties with permission of the court.
  7. Please check with each court regarding the scheduling of uncontested matters. Each court has the availability to conduct hearings through a virtual courtroom. Please contact each court for their availability to conduct a virtual/electronic hearing. These platforms include CourtCall and Microsoft Teams.

The Court reminds counsel and the public that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the Family Courts of Williamson County function effectively and efficiently during this disaster period. As this situation continues to evolve, this order may be modified or extended. We take seriously our obligation to balance the interest of justice and the health and safety of our courthouse community and the community at large. All are requested to exercise patience in this unprecedented situation. Notwithstanding

This order shall be filed with the Williamson County District Clerk and shall be published on both the "All District Courts" webpage and the "All County Courts at Law" webpage.

IT IS SO ORDERED THIS 18th DAY OF MARCH 2020

Click here for signed version

 
Criminal Misdemeanor Courts Under the 2020 State of Disaster COVID-19 and Related Coronavirus

This General Order is issued in response to the Local State of Disaster that has been declared by the County Judge of Williamson County, as well as the declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States, and in conformance with First Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals. (Misc. Docket No. 20-9042 (Tex.) Misc. Docket No. 20-007 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https://www.txcourts.gov/med ia/1446056/209042.pdf )

The Courts of Williamson County are open, "and every person ... shall have remedy by due course of law." (Tx. Const. Art. I Sec. 13). The Court finds that the State of Disaster requires certain steps to be taken in order to mitigate risk to the health and safety of the public, parties, and employees of the Court, and so it is therefore ORDERED that, effective March 19, 2020 and continuing until May 11, 2020, unless extended by further orders:

  1. Due to the limitations on mass gatherings limiting the Courts' ability to impanel juries, all jury trials in ALL MISDEMEANOR matters scheduled through May 11, 2020 are CONTINUED without prejudice to either party and, consistent with the directive of the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals, this Court finds that the ends of justice are served by this continuance.
  2. Magistration of Defendants taken into custody shall continue as it takes place at present, as a critical function of the Courts.
  3. All misdemeanor criminal matters with the exception of jail dockets scheduled for an in-court appearance before any County Court at Law Judge in Williamson County, between March 19, 2020 and May 11, 2020, including any associated deadlines are CONTINUED and will be reset, subject to the restrictions set out below. This General Order shall be extended beyond May 11, 2020 commensurate with disaster declarations issued by federal, state and local authorities.
    1. The Court Administrator of each court shall notify Counsel and/or the Defendant in each case of the new Court Date, once set.
    2. With respect to cases where the Defendant is held in custody of the Sheriff of Williamson County, Defense Cousel shall contact the Court Administrator.
    3. The County Courts at Law hearing misdemeanor matters will remain open for emgerency hearings and plea and sentencing hearings with preference given to in custody cases.
  4. During this period, the parties are strongly encouraged to continue to conference in order to resolve cases, where appropriate.
    1. With respect to cases where the defendant is held in the custody of the Sheriff of Williamson County, defense counsel and the state are ORDERED to conference (in person, telephonically, or via other means) within 7 days of this order, or as soon as is practicable, to confer regarding: the status of the case, any request concerning bond, discovery and any recommendation to resolve the case.
    2. Thereafter, defense counsel shall contact their client (in person, telephonically, or via other means) within 3 days to advise their client of the progress of the case.
  5. Counsel shall notify the Courts through each Court Administrator of all necessary requests for hearings, or entry of a plea.
    1. Under no circumstances should a person appear in Court who is experiencing symptoms of any illness.
    2. The Court will have the capability to conduct hearings in person, telephonically, and electronically.
    3. Each court has the availability to conduct hearings through a virtual courtroom. Please contact each court for their availability to conduct a virtual/electronic hearing. These platforms include CourtCall and Microsoft Teams.
    4. Attorneys shall confer regarding preparation of paperwork prior to the setting and must appear on time.

The Court reminds counsel and the public that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the County Courts at Law function effectively and efficiently during this disaster period. As this situation continues to evolve, this order may be modified or extended. We take seriously our obligation to balance the interest of justice and the health and safety of our courthouse community and the community at large. All are requested to exercise patience in this unprecedented situation. 

This order shall be filed with the Williamson County Clerk and shall be published on each County Court at Law webpage. 

IT IS SO ORDERED THIS 19th DAY OF MARCH 2020. 

Click here for a signed copy

 
Order concerning eviction proceedings: Supreme Court of Texas Fourth Emergency Order Regarding The COVID-19 State of Disaster
ORDERED that:
  1. Governor Abbott has declared a state of disaster in all 254 counties in the State of Texas in response to the imminent threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. This order is issued pursuant to Section 22.0035(b) of the Texas Government Code.
  2. This Order supplements and does not replace or amend the First, Second, or Third Emergency Orders Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster.
  3.  In any action for eviction to recover possession of residential property under Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code and Rule 510 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure: a. No trial, hearing, or other proceeding may be conducted, and all deadlines are tolled, until after April 19, 2020;
    1. A writ of possession may issue, but the posting of the written warning required by § 24.0061(d)(1) of the Property Code and the execution of the writ of possession may not occur until after April 26, 2020, and the deadlines in Rules 510.8(d)(1)- (d)(2) are tolled while this Order remains in effect; and
    2. New filings may be accepted, but the time period in Rule 510.4(a)(10) is suspended, and issuance and service of citation may not occur until after April 19, 2020.
  4. A case covered by Paragraph 3 may nevertheless proceed if, but only if:
    1. The plaintiff files a “Sworn Complaint for Forcible Detainer for Threat to Person or For Cause”;
    2. The court determines that the facts and grounds for eviction stated in the Complaint, under oath with personal knowledge, taken as true, show that the actions of the tenant, or the tenant's household members or guests, pose an imminent threat of (i) physical harm to the plaintiff, the plaintiff's employees, or other tenants, or (ii) criminal activity; and
    3. The court signs an order stating procedures for the case to proceed.
  5. This Order is effective immediately and expires April 19, 2020, unless extended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  6. The Clerk of the Supreme Court is directed to:
    1. post a copy of this Order on www.txcourts.gov;
    2. file a copy of this Order with the Secretary of State; and
    3. send a copy of this Order to the Governor, the Attorney General, and each member of the Legislature.
  7. The State Bar of Texas is directed to take all reasonable steps to notify members of the Texas bar of this Order. Dated: March 19, 2020

Click here for a signed version of this order

 
Second General Order Child Welfare Courts

Court Operations in Williamson County
Child Welfare Courts Under the 2020 State of Disaster 
COVID-19 and Related CORONA VIRUS

This Second General Order is issued in response to the Local State of Disaster that has been declared by the County Judge of Williamson County, as well as the declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States, and in confonnance with First Emergency Order Regarding the COVJD-19 State of Disaster issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals 1 (Attached hereto), and any further orders. 

The CHILD WELFARE COURTS FIND, in compliance with the above directives/orders, good cause under Texas Family Code Section I 07.004(e) for court-appointed attorney ad I items to confer with the child or other individual, as appropriate, by telephone or video conference. 

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that court-appointed attorney ad I items are authorized to confer with the child or other individual, as appropriate, by telephone or video conference until June I, 2020, subject to being extended by further orders. 

This order shall be filed with the Williamson County District Clerk and shall be published on the "All District Courts" webpage. 
IT IS SO ORDERED THIS 23RD DAY OF MARCH 2020 

Click here for a signed copy of this order

 
Regarding court hearings in misdemeanor cases due to the inaccessability of the courthouse caused by circumstances related to COVID-19

The Courts of Williamson County remain open, and this order is entered with the intent of ensuring that misdemeanor criminal cases may be heard in the County Courts-at-Law of Williamson County. 
Because of the state of emergency ordered by the Governor of Texas, and in compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court of Texas, the Texas Cou11 of Criminal Appeals, the Office of Court Administration, and local authorities, the Courts ORDER that, until fu11her order, hearings in misdemeanor cases are restricted to the following issues: 

  1. Plea
  2. Emergency Hearings: and
  3. Bail Hearings

Additionally, because of the public health risk associated with in-person gatherings as articulated in various executive orders issued by the President, Governor, and County Judge, the court ORDERS that EFFECTIVE MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020, hearings in misdemeanor cases shall be conducted exclusively on an electronic basis, and in conformance with the "Procedure for Setting and Conducting Electronic & Telephone Court Hearings in Misdemeanor Cases·· attached as Exhibit A. 
As in previously adopted orders, the Courts remind counsel that we take seriously our obligation to balance the interest of justice and the health and safety of our courthouse community and the community at large. 
IT IS SO ORDERED THIS 25th DAY OF MARCH, 2020 

Click here for a signed copy of this order

EXHIBIT A 
PROCEDURE FOR SETTING AND CONDUCTING 
ELECTRONIC & TELEPHONE COURT HEARINGS IN MISDEMEANOR CASES

  1. Hearings in misdemeanor criminal cases are limited to Pleas, Emergency Hearings, and Bail Hearings.
  2. Hearings will be conducted electronically using the Microsoft Teams application. In the event a hearing or other meeting is scheduled you will receive an email with a calendar invitation to the meeting. At the
    appointed time, all invitees will join the meeting by selecting the link provided.
  3. Counsel may access Microsoft Teams to join a meeting anytime, from any device, with or ·without a
    Microsoft Teams account. To join as a guest:
    1.  You will receive an email from the Court with a link ro "Join Microsoft Teams Meeting.'· Click on this link.
    2.  It will bring you to a webpage where you can choose to "Download the Teams App" or "Join on the Web." You can choose either one.
      1. If you are on a desktop computer, "Join on the Web" is easiest. Note: You must use
        Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge as your web-browser to use Teams on the web.
      2. If you are using a mobile device, downloading the Teams App is easiest.
    3. It will ask you to allow Teams to use your Audio and Video from your computer (you must have a camera and a microphone), and it will ask you to type in your name and click "Join Now."
    4. This will place you in the "Lobby" for the Videoconference to begin.
    5. The person coordinating the call will let you into the Videoconference once it begins.
    6. Please be advised that the call may be recorded by the Court or Court Staff for record purposes
  4. Key Parties
    1. County Court Judges wi II conduct Plea Hearings related to jail cases on a rotating basis.
    2. Other than Plea Hearings related to jail cases, each of the Judges will manage all other hearings on their respective dockets.
    3. Diana Jackson, Criminal Court Coordinator for Court Three, will manage the centralized hearing schedule for hearings involving inmates and will schedule all electronic hearings based on the centralized hearing schedule. There will be limited time slots available/or hearings involving inmates.
    4. The Court Administrator of the Court in which the matter is set is responsible for sending out notices of hearings (including Teams invitations).
    5. The Sheriff's Office will manage the paperwork flow in the jail and ensure that signed paperwork is scanned and provided to the Court.
  5. PROCESS FOR SETTING PLEA HEARINGS RELATED TO JAIL CASES
    NOTE: AGREED DISPOSITION REQUIRED PRIOR TO REQUESTING SETTING
    1. After an agreed disposition is reached, the state will email all required paperwork, including the judgement, to the defense attorney.
    2. PRIOR TO THE SCHEDULED HEARING:
      1. Defense attorneys will schedule a time to meet with defendant via phone call taking the following steps:
        1. Call 512-943-1365 to schedule phone call with defendant, and at the same time as the call is scheduled forward paperwork to Jail.Teams@wilco.org.
        2. Sheriffs officers will print out the Plea Paperwork and provide to Defendant prior to scheduled phone call
        3. Participate in phone call with Defendant. If Defendant agrees to plea, instruct Defendant to sign plea paperwork and thumbprint judgment.
    3. Once ready to schedule a plea related to a jail case, the defense attorney will email Diana Jackson at diana.jackson@wilco.org, including the completed plea paperwork, to ask for a setting.
    4. Ms. Jackson will schedule the hearing in an available time based on the hearing schedule set by the Judges. She will then email the Court Administrator for the Judge hearing the docket for that day, sending the time and date of the hearing and the plea paperwork.
    5. The court administrator will send a Teams Meeting at least 24 hours in advance of the setting to the following distribution list:
      1. Jail Staff: Chris Watts & Phillip Schmidt to facilitate having the defendant appear via email at cwatts@wilco.org. and pschmidt@wilco.org
      2. Jail.Teams@wilco.org
      3. Defense Attorney
      4. The State
      5. The Judge, and
      6. The Court Reporter
    6. The Court Administrator will initiate the hearing as the "meeting organizer" in Teams. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will electronically sign the paperwork and forward to the county clerk for filing.
      1. i.    All originals will be filed with the papers of the Court.
      2. ii.    The clerk will email file stamped copy of judgment to jail staff to be forwarded to the
        defendant.
    7. If it becomes necessary for the defense attorney and client to speak privately, the defendant will have access to a phone which will allow for unrecorded conversations with counsel, and the hearing will be recessed to allow for this to happen. Teams should be muted from the jail and attorney inputs.
  6. PROCESS FOR SETTING ALL OTHER NECESSARY ON RECORD HEARINGS
    1. The Moving party will submit paperwork through eFile, as usual, and should separately notify the Other Party that paperwork is being filed and a hearing is being sought.
    2. The Moving party will contact Court Administrator to request hearing and will advise the Court Administrator as to whether the Defendant needs to be present for the hearing, and whether the defendant is in custody.
    3. If the defendant is in custody and needs to be present for the hearing, the Court Administrator will contact Ms. Jackson to ask for a jail hearing slot (see 5d, above).
    4. The court administrarator will send a Teams Meeting at least 24 hours in advance of the setting to the following distribution list:
      1. Dfense Attorney
      2. The State
      3. The Judge, and
      4. The Court Reporter.
      5. Jail Staff: Chris Watts & Phillip Schmidt (if the Defendant is in custody and needs to be present)
      6. Jail.Teams@wilco.org (if the Defendant is in custody and needs to be present)
    5. The Hearing will take place, and the Judge will sign necessary paperwork in Odyssey. The Court Administrator wi II ensure that the County Clerk is aware that there has been an update to the case.
    6. If it becomes necessary for the defense attorney and client to speak privately, the defendant will have access to a phone which will allow for unrecorded conversations with counsel, and the hearing will be recessed to allow for this to happen.
    7. The procedure under this section applies to plea hearings for cases involving defendants not in jail. For such pleas, the attorney will email the plea paperwork directly to the Court Administrator for the court conducting the hearing.
  7. PROCESS FOR SETTING NON-RECORD TELEPHONIC CONFERENCES
    1. The Party seeking a non-record telephonic hearing will contact the Court Administrator, with a copy to the other party, via email asking for a non-record telephonic hearing.
    2. Any necessary paperwork must be submitted through eFile before hearing is scheduled.
    3. The Court Administrator will work with the Judge to set a time and will notify the Judge and all parties of the time, via an appointment.
    4. The Judge will initiate the conference call and will add the parties into the call.
    5. The hearing will take place.
    6. The judge will direct one of the parties to send an email to the Court and participants confirming the outcome of the hearing.
    7. The Judge will make a docket entry to reflect that the hearing has taken place and its outcome.
 
Third General Order Child Welfare Courts

Regarding virtual court hearings in a virtual courtroom environment in child welfare cases

Due to the inaccessibility of the courthouse caused by circumstances related to covid-19

The Courts of Williamson County remain open, and this order is entered with the intent of ensuring that CHILD WELFARE cases may be heard in the 395TH DISTRICT COURT, 425TH DISTRICT COURT AND COUNTY COURT AT LAW NO ONE of Williamson County, Texas.

In response to the Local State of Disaster that has been declared by the County Judge of Williamson County, as well as the declarations by the Governor of the State of Texas, and by the President of the United States, and in conformance with First Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster and any subsequent orders, issued by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals 1(Misc. Docket No. 20-9042 (Tex.) Misc. Docket No. 20-007 (Tex. Crim. App.), accessed at https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446056/209042.pdf)

Due to the exigent circumstances the Courts require hearings to be scheduled via VIRTUAL COURTROOM TECHNOLOGIES. The CHILD WELFARE COURTS are utilizing Microsoft Teams to set Virtual Courtroom Hearings. Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based team collaboration software that is part of the Office 365 suite of applications. The core capabilities in Microsoft Teams include business messaging, calling, video meetings and file sharing.

Additionally, because of the public health risk associated with in-person gatherings as articulated in various executive orders issued by the President, Governor, and County Judge, the court ORDERS that EFFECTIVE MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020, hearings in CHILD WELFARE cases shall be conducted exclusively on an electronic basis, and in conformance with the "Procedure for Setting and Conducting Electronic & Telephone Court Hearings in Child Welfare Cases" attached as Exhibit A.

As in previously adopted orders, the Courts remind counsel that we take seriously our obligation to balance the interest of justice and the health and safety of our courthouse community and the community at large.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the party scheduling the Virtual Courtroom Hearing serve notice of the hearing pursuant to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and the terms of this General Order.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the party scheduling the Virtual Courtroom Hearing include instructions sufficient for the opposing counsel and party to make an appearance at the hearing.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the party scheduling the Virtual Courtroom Hearing provide the Court Administrator with sufficient contact information for the attorneys and parties, so that the court administrator is able to calendar the hearing utilizing Microsoft Teams.

IT IS SO ORDERED THIS 27th DAY OF MARCH, 2020

EXHIBIT A

PROCEDURE FOR SETTING AND CONDUCTING

ELECTRONIC & TELEPHONE COURT HEARINGS IN CHILD WELFARE CASES

  1. PROCEDURE FOR SETTING A HEARING
    To set a hearing, please contact the Court Administrator. The Court Administrator will set the hearing by sending the parties an email calendar invitation through Microsoft Teams with a specific day and time for the hearing.
  2. PROCEDURE PRIOR TO THE SCHEDULED HEARING
    1. The County Attorney's Office will distribute to all parties the proposed order(s).
    2. Respondent attorneys/attorney ad I item for the children will schedule a time to meet with his/her client via phone call or other electronic means.
    3. The parties shall confer prior to the hearing and sign proposed orders when possible.
  3. 3:            PROCEDURE FOR JOINING A HEARING
    1. Devices: A participant may access Microsoft Teams to join a meeting anytime, from any smart device, with or without a Microsoft Teams account.
    2. Day of Hearing: On the day of the hearing, the participant will receive an email from the Court with a link to "Join Microsoft Teams Meeting." Click on this link. It will bring you to a webpage where you can choose to either 1) "Join on the Web" or 2) "Download the Teams App."
    3. Participant to join as a guest:
      1. If you are on a desktop computer, ·'Join on the Web'' is easiest. Note: You must use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge as your web-browser to use Teams on the web.
      2. If you are using a mobile device, downloading the Teams App is easiest. It will ask you to allow Teams to use your Audio and Video from your computer (you must have a camera and a microphone), and it will ask you to type in your name and click "Join Now.''
      3. Please see the link for assistance https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/join-a­meeting-without-a-teams-account-c6efc38f-4e03-4e79-b28f-e65a4c039508
    4. Participant to join with the Teams application: You will receive an email from the Court with a link to "Join Microsoft Teams Meeting." Click on this link and the meeting will open automatically.
    5. Once Participant has joined to the Hearing:
      1. The participant will be placed in the "Lobby" for the Videoconference to begin.
      2. The person coordinating the call will let you into the Videoconference once it begins.
    6. Meeting Recorded: Please be advised that the call may be recorded by the Court or Court Staff for record purposes.
  4. VISUAL/AUDIO CAPABILITY
    1. Visual capabilities: To have visual capabilities, in addition to audio, you must have a computer, smartphone, or tablet with a webcam.
    2. Participant experiencing technical difficulties: If you are unable to use the Teams application or Teams on the web, you can join the meeting by calling the phone number and conference ID in the meeting invitation, just dial the number to join.
    3. Participants without visual/audio capability: For Respondent parents who do not have visual/audio capability there will be a space provided at the courthouse with the appropriate equipment to participate in the hearing. Contact the Court Administrator for additional information.
    4. Visual Appearance: The Court strongly recommends the parties and counsel appear using visual capabilities. If the parties fail to appear visually, the Court may determine it is more appropriate to reschedule the hearing for a date after the disaster declaration lifts.
  5. PROCEDURE FOR HEARINGS
    1. There are several ways the hearing can be conducted:
      1. Counsel may have their client and witnesses physically present in their office.
      2. Counsel may also participate from one location, the client can participate from another location, and a witness can participate from a different location.
      3. If it becomes necessary for the Respondent's attorney and client to speak privately, the Court will allow time for a phone conversation, text or other electronic means communication.
    2. Witness Testimony and Exhibits
      1. Witness testimony will be taken by the Official Court Reporter.
      2. Exhibit Submission and Retention:
        1. Parties will be required to electronically provide the court reporter and opposing counsel/party their pre-marked exhibits no later than 24-hours prior to the hearing.
        2. The Court Reporter will keep and file copies of exhibits per her normal procedure.
    3. Submission and Entry of Orders:
      1. The County Attorney's Office will follow their current procedure and provide orders to opposing counsel/pro se Respondents.
      2. Following submission, the Court will sign orders electronically.

You can find a signed copy of this order here.