Starting July 5, Harris County residents will report to jury duty at a new location. The new Harris County Jury Assembly Room and Transportation Plaza, a light-filled building located in downtown Houston, is only a short walk from four Harris County courthouses. The new $13.6 million building has four jury assembly rooms, which allow Harris County to process smaller groups of prospective jurors and stagger the times they need to report for jury duty. Each room holds 250 prospective jurors. The goal of the design, says 351st District Judge Mark Ellis (pictured, left), co-chair of the district courts’ jury committee, is to reduce the time prospective jurors spend waiting to be called to a courtroom. Also, he notes, potential jurors will only have to pass through security once because the building is connected through tunnels to a parking garage and to the four courthouses: the Criminal Justice Center, the Civil Courthouse, the Juvenile Justice Center and the Family Law Center. Harris County Clerk Chris Daniel (pictured, bottom) says the county is providing Wi-Fi access throughout the building, in the tunnels and in the park surrounding the building. “There’s nothing like this anywhere else I’ve ever seen,” says Ellis. “It’s state-of-the-art.” Ellis and Daniel were among several who participated in a ribbon-cutting on June 21.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys