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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Fed Courts Outperform Locals During Storm

DALLAS (CN) - Dallas County officials' failure to coordinate responses to this week's monster storm resulted in public confusion at county courts and offices. The Federal Court's response was much smoother.

Couriers, jurors, attorneys and journalists braved the record low temperatures and half-inch thick layer of ice on roads and sidewalks Tuesday and Wednesday to make it to the downtown civil and criminal courthouses. They found skeleton crews in some offices and courts, while others were closed due to judges' and employees' no-shows on both days.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced early Tuesday morning that county courts would be open. But his statement was not posted on the Dallas County website nor was it reported to local TV stations for inclusion alongside school closure lists.

No individual elected officials posted announcement about closure of their offices on the website, either.

Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons' office and Dallas County Clerk John Warren's office were both open Tuesday and Wednesday, but closed early both days with no notice to the public.

Both offices closed at about noon Tuesday and at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

No announcements about the early closures were made on their websites or on the recorded telephone messages.

The U.S. District Clerk's office did announce on its website that its offices would be closed all day Tuesday and would open late Wednesday. It also provided information about which out-of-town divisions would remain open.

Denton County announced the closure of all its offices early Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and also called local TV stations, so the closures could be announced along with school closings.

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