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McAllen, Texas, Celebrates Technology Upgrades to Courts

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday morning to usher in a new technological era for the court, one that sees the use of technology to make records much more accessible than they have been.

A gavel resting on a pedestal on a wooden table with a set of brass scales in the background.
(TNS) — The city of McAllen is ending the year by looking toward the future with the newly renovated McAllen Municipal Court.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday morning to usher in a new technological era for the court, which also recently became a court of record.

"We're having our grand reopening to celebrate some of the things that we've accomplished this year as a court — the first being the huge amount of tech upgrades that we did," Lauren Sepulveda, presiding judge for the Municipal Court of McAllen, said after the ceremony.

"This technology that we installed here in the court allows citizens and visitors who receive citations to appear remotely for our court settings," she continued. "They can appear in person if that is easier, but if not they can appear remotely whether there's health concerns, or they're traveling, or they're not from the area. That way we can increase accessibility to the court to make sure individuals who do receive citations are taking care of those citations, whether that be through a plea or through a trial."

Sepulveda said the courtroom had not had any renovations since the municipal court moved into its current location, 1601 N. Bicentennial Boulevard, in 2003. The furniture in the courtroom was updated with new woodwork, while an illuminated city seal was added to the backdrop behind the judge's chair.

"We wanted to make sure that we just rebeautified the court — make sure that it's as presentable as possible to citizens or individuals who come in," the judge said.

She also explained that the municipal court is now a court of record, meaning that the court will now keep records of all trials to help increase accessibility and transparency.

"Most municipal courts do not have records, which means that anything that happens here — there's no real record of it," Sepulveda said. "Now, with us being a court of record, there is a record. So anybody that goes to trial, if they have an issue with any of the rulings or decisions that our juries or judges make, they have the ability to appeal that decision. There's going to be an actual record that tells the citizen or the person who received the citation."

McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez said the city hoped that the renovations would reflect the city's professionalism and transparency while adding some comfort to those who may find themselves in the courtroom.

"(Sepulveda) has only been here a few years, and I really see her engaged with the community," Rodriguez said. "She's totally committed to ensuring that we provide for our citizens. Even when they're in here — it's probably not one of their best days — security, transparency and maybe even some warmth is what the city of McAllen is trying to provide."

© 2022 The Monitor (McAllen, Texas). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.