Cynthia Diggs, Champions the Right to In-Person Jury Trials

Houston ABOTA member Cindy Diggs led one of ABOTA’s efforts last year to help preserve the right to trial by jury in the Texas courts.  In December of 2021, a Harris County district court ordered the litigants in a case to conduct a jury trial virtually, despite both sides’ objections to a virtual trial and requests to proceed in-person. The litigants instead chose to seek a writ of mandamus vacating a trial court’s order.  ABOTA quickly recognized the potential impact of such orders on the right to trial by jury.  Although virtual trials had been much discussed during the height of COVID, there was almost no case law directly on point concerning forced virtual jury trials. Cindy and her team expeditiously wrote and filed an amicus brief in the mandamus proceeding, urging the Texas Supreme Court to disallow forced virtual jury trials.  The Texas Supreme Court’s memorandum opinion favored ABOTA’s position.  The Texas Supreme Court also issued a revised emergency order, that reinforced the right to an in-person jury trial in civil cases where the parties object to a virtual trial.  Thank you, Cindy and the entire amicus team, for your great work in preserving the 7th Amendment.