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Midland County inmates to see delays in trials and indictments amid COVID-19 pandemic

The delays are due to juries of 12 not being able to take meet under social distancing guidelines

MIDLAND, Texas — These days, on the 6th floor of the Midland County courthouse the County's District Attorney Laura Nodolf is getting used to working in peace and quiet.

"We're really trying to restrict individuals who are coming in unless it's for an essential function," said Nodolf.

Nodolf says all of her staff that are capable of working from home are doing so, and they're using technology to work with one another.

From using Zoom for conference calls to posting court hearings on YouTube, and using laptops at home, Nodolf says staff from the district attorney's office is trying to keep up with their caseloads.

"We're still connecting pleas, we're still issuing protective orders, we're still working on bonding people out of jail," said Nodolf.

Though two of her office's essential functions are facing obstacles.

For one, trials by jury for felony cases require 12 person juries, those are now all on delays.

"The Supreme Court of Texas has given us a stay to not have any unnecessary proceedings until May 8th," said Nodolf

Second, holding grand jury indictments also requires 12 jury members..

So Nodolf says Governor Greg Abbott has lifted the requirement to indict cases within 90 days.

"We have people facing very serious crimes and some of them are arguing 'hey wait you haven't indicted me in 90 days' and our argument is the Governor said we can't have grand juries so the 90 day rule does not apply," said Nodolf.

Though, those behind bars do have options.

Bench trials can still be requested by inmates and their attorneys, and plea deals are also still on the table. 

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