The incident — which was streamed live on YouTube — occurred during jury selection for the one-day trial in an insurance case in Collin County District Court.
Attorneys first questioned 12 prospective jurors in a Zoom videoconferencing room — while Judge Emily Miskel had the other 14 prospective jurors wait in a breakout room, reported Law.com.
After the lawyers questioned the first group of potential jurors, Miskel spoke with the attorneys privately in a separate breakout room — and returned to find that a candidate had walked off-screen.
He was heard talking on his phone.
The man was called to come back but there was no response since his computer audio was hooked into headphones that he was not wearing.
Finally, the man returned, and the attorneys for both sides announced they had picked their group of 12, allowing the others to sign off.
The jurors heard a condensed version of the case and delivered a non-binding verdict.
The parties, having seen how their case could fare before a jury in a full-blown trial, will sit down for mediation and try to negotiate a settlement on Tuesday.