Astroworld Festival: First Trial Begins in Civil Lawsuits Related to Houston Tragedy

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – The first trial for civil lawsuits related to the Astroworld Festival tragedy last November is underway.

The hearing, which begins at 9:30 a.m., is the first since nearly 400 lawsuits were lumped into one. Now, dozens of law firms representing those at the concert are in a courtroom in downtown Houston.

Several attorneys also represent families who lost loved ones on November 5, 2021. Ten people were killed and hundreds more injured.

The attorneys told ABC13 that this is the start of the process of determining which law firm will be the lead plaintiff in the case, meaning that instead of dozens of attorneys from different firms, a handful of laws The attorney will handle the case.

This also came after Judge Kristen Hawkins issued a gag order over public concerns in the case.

“This case should be heard in the courtroom and not on social media or press releases to the media,” Hawkins told the attorneys.

She added that she prefers “arguments brought before the court, and where appropriate, to the jury and not before. There should be no attempt to influence the jury in this case. We know this is an emotional incident.”

However, the order could make it more difficult to get public information about what’s going on as the case moves through the system, especially since it would severely limit what attorneys and clients can do. publicly shareable.

ABC13 spoke with an attorney last month who explained gag orders happen more often in high-profile criminal cases because those cases often go to trial and you want a compensation team. fair jury.

READ MORE: Cone of silence: Gag order issued for Astroworld civil cases

Stan Schneider, a longtime criminal attorney not interested in any of Astroworld’s civil cases, said.

Hawkins, who is also serving as a pre-trial judge, gave the following reasons for the order:

  • premium theme
  • National and local media coverage
  • Extensive lawyer interview
  • lawyer’s social media posts
  • fear it will favor the jury

In this case, Hawkins personally issued a gag order. Neither the plaintiff nor the defense attorney asked for it.

But as Professor Kenneth Williams of South Texas College of Law told ABC13’s Miya Shay, the judge has the power to issue her order.

“Generally speaking, parties have the right to speak, including litigants. However, courts can also balance that, with the need to provide a fair trial for both parties,” Williams said.

“Astroworld Aftermath” takes you inside the festival and what happened that night.

Follow Jeff Ehling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Dais Johnston

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