Jurors on duty at the Grimes County Justice Center will get an area for security at the courthouse.
Speaking during Wednesday’s Commissioner’s Court meeting, District Judge David Moorman says the post-COVID return to jury trials has shown them that people do not like being cooped up all day.
“One of the things we have learned is that jurors do not like staying in their specific room all the time. Sometimes, we have to take hearings outside their presence, and on nice days, they want to be outside in the sunshine…that keeps them happy,” said Moorman. “However, that does pose problems for bailiffs when they go to the back area. They have to be mindful of if they are coming into contact with the defendant, folks associated with them, or the alleged victims families. That gets to be a problem.”
The idea would be to build a concrete patio, with a little overhang, and area to “congregate.”
The issue of smoking also came up, and Commissioner Phillip Cox noted there is a county policy against smoking within 15 feet of the building, which would need to be addressed.
“All that to say…I definitely think we needs place for the jurors to…I do not want to say ‘recreate,’ but…they need a place to step outside, and decompress. If we have smokers, that gives them an opportunity to do that. Whether we need to expand the patio to accommodate that, or change the policy. Either way…I feel like this is a valid request,” said Cox.
Building maintenance manager Rodney Floyd said the patio would be about 10 feet by 10 feet.
Commissioners approved the request to construct the patio for jurors, in an amount not to exceed $50,000.