Breckenridge Texan

90th Judicial Court announces recent plea deals, continues with remote proceedings

90th Judicial Court announces recent plea deals, continues with remote proceedings
January 27
13:25 2021

Stephens County District Attorney Dee Peavy’s office recently released the following list of plea deals that were made in the 90th Judicial District Court in November and December 2020:

In November, the following cases were pled:

  • Rhonda Maryann Allen, 43, Breckenridge, pleaded guilty to the offense of Arson and was sentenced to five years community supervision, and to pay $750 fine and court costs.
  • Christopher Thorne Hayworth, 28, Breckenridge, pleaded guilty to the offense of Stalking and was sentenced to eight years community supervision, and to pay $500 fine and court costs.

In December, Gabriel Charles Miller, 43, of Breckenridge pleaded guilty to the offense of Aggravated Assault Date/Family/House with Deadly Weapon and was sentenced to five years community supervision, and to pay $750 fine, restitution, and court costs.

The court, which is presided over by 90th Judicial District Court Judge Stephen Bristow, continues to hold most proceedings remotely, via the Zoom videoconferencing website, following the Supreme Court of Texas’ 33rd Emergency Order regarding the COVID-19 state of emergency. The order, which was issued on Jan. 14, renews the 29th Emergency Order and sets out the limitations and criteria for jury trial proceedings through April 1.

According to the Texas Judicial Branch website, some of the key highlights from the order are:

The most recent OCA Guidance that the Emergency Order requires judges to follow prohibits in-person proceedings on or after January 11 unless the Local Administrative District Judge or Presiding Judge of a Municipal Court submits a recertification to the Regional Presiding Judge that certifies: 1) whether the local health authority believes current local pandemic conditions are conductive to in-person proceedings under the approved operating plan; and 2) the objective criteria that will be used to determine when an in-person proceeding is necessary and when all reasonable efforts do not permit the proceeding to be conducted remotely.

  • In-person jury trials must not be held prior to April 1, except as noted below:
    • Justice and municipal courts are prohibited from holding an in-person jury proceeding prior to April 1. See below for virtual jury trial options for justice and municipal courts.
    • District courts, statutory or constitutional county courts, and statutory probate courts are prohibited from conducting in-person jury proceedings unless:
      • The local administrative district judge for the county in which the court is located has, before the jury proceeding and after conferring with the judges in the county and the local public health authority, submitted an operating plan for conducting jury proceedings consistent with OCA’s updated Guidance for conducting jury proceedings;
      • To assist with coordination of local resources and to manage capacity issues, the judge has obtained prior approval for that jury proceeding from the local administrative district judge and Regional Presiding Judge;
      • Not more than five days before the jury proceeding, the local administrative district judge has consulted the local public health authority and verified that local health conditions and plan precautions are appropriate for the jury proceeding to proceed;
      • The judge has considered on the record any objection or motion related to proceeding with the jury proceeding at least seven days before the jury proceeding or as soon as practicable if the objection or motion is made or filed within seven days of the jury proceeding; and
      • The judge has established communication protocols to ensure that no court participants have tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 30 days, currently have symptoms of COVID-19, or have had recent known exposure to COVID-19.
    • Except for criminal cases where confinement in jail or prison is a potential punishment, judges may conduct remote jury proceedings as long as the court considers on the record any objection or motion related to proceeding with the remote jury proceeding at least seven days before the proceeding or as soon as practicable if the objection or motion is made or filed within seven days of the jury proceeding.
      • Except for non-binding proceedings, a judge may not permit or require a petit juror to appear remotely unless the judge ensures that all potential and selected petit jurors have access to technology to participate remotely.
    • In criminal cases where confinement in jail or prison is a potential punishment, remote jury proceedings must not be conducted without appropriate waivers and consent obtained on the record from the defendant and prosecutor.
  • Permits judges to modify or suspend deadlines and procedures through April 1, 2021, and for a period not to exceed 180 days from the date of the order for a dismissal date in a CPS case.
  • Permits judges to continue conducting proceedings remotely away from the court’s usual location with reasonable notice and access to the participants and the public.
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