Jury Selection Done With Pen, Paper After Flooding

By Julie Tam
|  Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010  |  Updated 6:30 PM CDT
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Trouble Flows When Water Mains Break

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Monday night's flood is still haunting the Dallas County court system.

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Flooded Building Lengthens Jury Process

The flood that knocked out the computers at the Dallas courts and records building slowed down the jury selection process.

Mopping Up Flooded Dallas Co. Records Building

County commissioners are hoping to get the computers running by Wednesday.
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Hundreds of people who showed up for jury duty Wednesday morning got a surprise and a headache at the Dallas County courthouse.

The computer system was still down from Monday's pipe break, sending jury services back to pen and paper at the Crowley Courts Building in downtown Dallas.

People called in for jury duty said the process was much slower than usual. Without the computer system, they had to do everything by hand.

"There was a line of people, and there was one lady at the door giving everyone a paper," Lucio Benedetto said.

He spent the day waiting for his wife, who was in jury selection in Auxiliary Court 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. No jurors were seated in the end.

Computer screens sat idle with error messages because the eJuror system did not have Internet access. Potential jurors who had already filled out the online questionnaire had to do it again on paper.

Benedetto said the process was tedious because only one person handing out forms and many of the potential jurors didn't have pens.

"So eventually, things got better when another lady came in and she brought some pens," he said.

Once potential jurors were sent from the Central Jury Room, they waited in the halls with books in hand to pass the time.

"It's been a real nightmare, but that's what happens when you fail to plan," Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said, adding that the whole mess could have been prevented.

Price said ago he co-chaired a technology committee two years ago to address a situation just like this.

"That plan was disbanded by this court by a majority 3-2 vote a year ago. This is the results," Price said.

One judge said his courtroom had to go back to pen and paper Wednesday when hearing cases, but said he was glad they could still get work done.

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