Backlog of COVID-related eviction cases facing local judges

Backlog of eviction cases facing Nueces County judges
Posted at 7:40 PM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 20:42:41-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There are more than 200 eviction cases waiting to be heard in Nueces County courts.

And according to the Texas Supreme Court, they could be heard as of July 25.

But some cases can be heard sooner.

We’re talking about eviction cases involving unique or emergency circumstances.

The Texas Supreme Court Order allows for those cases to be heard anytime before July 25.

Eviction cases that fall under the CARES ACT won’t be heard until Sept. 1.

The CARES ACT is a law intended to address the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

And all dates can be changed by the Supreme Court.

Cases can still be filed, but Judge Henry Santana urges landlords to be patient as tenants deal with loss of jobs and income, and their inability to pay rent on time.

Evictions could lead to people out on the street.

Even homeless.

“Maybe receive a partial payment. Maybe half payment. Try to work it out,” the judge urges.

Before courts can even re-open and begin hearing cases, each judge in Texas has to submit an operating plan, similar to this one, to the Supreme Court, Office of Court Administration, Health Department, and 5th Judicial Region, for approval.

“Our courts have to be prepared, sanitized, and taken care of totally. And we have to submit a plan to them as to how we’re going to do that,” according to Santana.

And then, according to the judge, it becomes a matter of whether cases can be heard virtually, through Zoom, or in-person with approval from the county judge.

“If we could make an exception for the Zoom versus hearing them live in court, this procedure would probably go a lot faster,” Santana said.