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City of Progreso metering entry to public building

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PROGRESO — Entry to a public building in Progreso was denied to KRGV on Wednesday.

Municipal court judge for Progreso, Judge Orlando Jimenez, was meeting with people who had received citations given for violating the emergency orders previously in place.

A concerned resident contacted KRGV to invite the media to observe the proceedings. When reporter Valerie Gonzalez entered the main lobby, a man who only identified himself as Raul Garcia said they were at capacity. He walked toward Gonzalez as he demanded she "go outside." After walking backward to the exit, Gonzalez stated, "It is a court proceeding and it is public." "No. It’s not," Garcia said. He added, "We’re at capacity — 25% capacity."

Some people waiting to go inside were being called as room cleared up. It wasn't clear why the city was metering the number of people allowed inside. The governor's order to keep a capacity at 25% applies to restaurants and retailers.

Attempts to reach the city attorney were not successful. The police chief for the city spoke to the judge and reported there were no hearings. People were only brought in for rescheduling, he said.

Municipal courts in Texas are advised not to bring anyone physically into the offices for non-essential proceedings. "Courts should use all reasonable efforts to conduct proceedings remotely," reads a portion of the guidance under the Texas Municipal Court Education Center. Texas Office of Court Administration also implemented guidance that reads, "Currently, courts should not be conducting any non-essential proceedings in person." Both are in effect until June 1.

Outside of the courtroom, people said they went to explain the situation that led to their citations to the judge. One person said the driver was out around 8 p.m., before the 10 p.m. curfew at the time, to retrieve some insulin and go to the gas station. They were asked to pay the fine set at $1,000 but said they could not and preferred to speak to the judge. All who left said they were not asked to pay a fine but would be returning at a later date, some with documents.

As the courtroom cleared, KRGV was allowed inside to hear the judge tell the last person facing a citation to return with supporting evidence. Then the judge walked away and did not address any questions.

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