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A court hearing about last year the deadly Astroworld music festival took place on Tuesday and included discussions related to publicity issues in the media, gag orders and concerns about the lack of a variety of lawyers representing the killed or injured.
The hearing was the first time lawyers had heard nearly 500 lawsuits filed after 10 people were killed and hundreds injured during a massive burst of crowd at a Nov. 5 concert headlined by rapper Travis Scott, they met in court after cases were joined before a single judge.
Following the appointment last month by a panel of judges overseen by the Texas Supreme Court to hear all pre-trial claims, state district judge Kristen Hawkins has ruled to close the case.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Hawkins clarified her order, saying lawyers could tell the media about the actual problems going on in court, but she did not want lawyers to take their cases to public opinion and possibly influence the jury.
“This case should be heard in the courtroom, not on social media or with press releases or other statements in the media,” Hawkins said.
Brent Kuhn, a lawyer representing about 1,500 concertgoers and seeking $ 10 billion in damages, said after the hearing that he understood the judge’s purpose: ultimately. “
“But this is a case of public imports for all the obvious reasons,” Kuhn said.
Much of Wednesday’s hearing was devoted to discussing how things will go, setting up a governing body to act on behalf of each party’s lawyers, resolving evidence disputes and other issues. Hawkins said she plans to hold monthly hearings. She asked that before the next hearing the lawyers give her a breakdown of the various lawsuits into four categories: death, bodily harm, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kuhn said it could be years before trials or settlements take place.
During the trial, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who represents the family of the youngest man who died of injuries during the festival, said most of the killed or injured victims were black, but most of the lawyers representing them were white. During Wednesday’s hearing, most of the 50-60 lawyers in the courtroom were white.
“It seems that these African-American voices do not have much representation in court. We are really fighting this. We are concerned that they do not have the right to vote,” said Crump, who represents the family. 9-year-old Ezra Bluntwho was Black. Ezra’s father, Trestan Blunt, who was with his son at the concert, was in court on Tuesday.
In recent years, Crump represented the victims police brutality and violence by thieves and was an advocate for the families of Trayvon Martin, Breona Taylor and George Floyd.
Hawkins told Crump that the issue “did not go unnoticed by the court … I would like it to be addressed further.”
But Hawkins said she “won’t choose anyone’s lawyer for them. I know we have great lawyers in this room, and those lawyers come from all aspects of Harris County.”
Neil Mann, who represents the promoter of the Astroworld Live Nation festival, thanked Crump for covering the issue, saying “I agree with him.”
Last month, Houston officials announced the creation new task force which will consider improving security at major events in Houston.
The age of those killed at the concert ranged from 9 to 27 years. Approximately 300 people were injured and treated at the scene, and 25 were taken to hospital. The slain died from compression asphyxia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.