The massive slowdown of Texas courts and the impact on justice
October 13, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the justice system hard, causing cases to backlog and slowdown in courts. In 2019, Texas courts averaged 186 jury trials per week. In 2020, the average sunk to only four.
Howard Henderson, director of the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University, sums it up in four words: “It’s a total mess."
While getting the courts back to their normal speed, removing misdemeanors from the system is pivotal in getting the court backlog down. The percentage of defendants awaiting trial while incarcerated has gone from 32% to 83% in the last 27 years, adding more stress to an already bogged down justice system.
Regarding the diligent component, Henderson believes that moving misdemeanors from the system is pivotal in getting the backlog down. “I think you identify those low-level, non-violent offenses and figure out how to get them out of the way,” Henderson said.