The devastation in the Houston area from Hurricane Harvey has extended to the state and local court systems, which have effectively been shut down. State courthouses in Harris County, Texas are closed all week, and several other counties are scrambling to shift proceedings to available venues. The federal courts in the Southern District of Texas also suspended operations for several days, a major development given that the district receives more than 14,000 filings a year. The Eastern District of Texas and Western District of Louisiana also closed courthouses in light of the hurricane.
In the wake of real tragedy along Harvey’s path, the inconvenience of a closed courthouse is admittedly relatively minor. But as those in the Gulf Coast begin the long process of reconstructing their communities, an operational and fully functioning court system will be a welcome development.