Inclement weather and snow-clogged streets have had an impact on attorneys in Amarillo and Lubbock. Brian Heinrich (pictured), a partner in Amarillo’s Templeton Smithee Hayes Heinrich & Russell, says he missed a pretrial hearing in a civil case that was set for today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Amarillo and is unsure whether the trial will begin as scheduled on Wednesday. “My guess is it will be put off,” Heinrich says. He says the jury pool for federal court draws from 26 counties, most of which have been hit by the bad weather. Heinrich says he spent all day Monday in his law office working on the case but that he was the only one in the firm’s offices. “We told our entire staff not to come in,” he says.
J.D. Schmidt, a partner in Caudle & Schmidt in Amarillo, says he has been unable to get to his office because he lives in a section of Amarillo where there was no snow plow service on most streets. “I missed a paying client coming in, so it was an expensive snow day,” says Schmidt, whose practice focuses on criminal defense and family law. Schmidt says he hopes to reschedule the client’s visit to his office for later in the week.
Heinrich and Schmidt say the Potter County Courthouse and the federal courthouse in Amarillo closed Monday. Recorded messages on the phones for the Potter County District Clerk’s Office and the U.S. District Clerk’s Office indicated that those offices remain closed today. Clinton Thetford, emergency management coordinator for Lubbock County, says the county courthouse was closed Monday but was scheduled to reopen at 10 a.m. today. “We actually had a blizzard on Monday,” Thetford says. “It was unsafe for people to be on the road.”
Criminal defense attorney Chuck Lanehart (pictured), a shareholder in Lubbock’s Chappell Lanehart & Stangl, says, “If the courthouse is not open, in my practice we’re not open.” Lanehart says he missed a big hearing that had been scheduled Monday and also missed hearings that were scheduled today. Belia Gonzales, a deputy clerk at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Lubbock, says the federal courthouse was closed Monday but reopened today.
-- Mary Alice Robbins
Robbins is an Austin-based freelance writer and a former Texas Lawyer senior reporter.