As Bexar County Courts prepare to resume jury trials for the first time in more than 14 months, District Attorney Joe Gonzales has published a message to local crime victims: please be patient.
COVID-19 protocols brought jury trials to a halt in March 2020. The local administrative judge has announced that in-person trials will resume June 1, 2021, but that does not mean business as usual.
“The judges have agreed to a scheduled rotation for jury panels, with each court getting one jury every two weeks. With more than 50,000 felony and misdemeanors pending, it is going to take quite a bit of time for cases to be resolved,” Gonzales said.
Information on court settings are sent by mail to victims of crime or their next of kin, but that does not mean those trial dates cannot be changed.
“Judges consider multiple factors, including the age and seriousness of the case, to determine which cases get a priority setting. While we were able to resolve cases by plea agreement during the pandemic, many cases are headed to trial. We have been in contact with our victims to keep them informed of the likelihood of their cases going to trial on the date of the current court settings, but we want to make sure they understand that it is going to take quite a bit of time for courts to work through this backlog of pending cases,” Gonzales said.
The District Attorney’s Office is also encouraging victims and their next of kin to keep their designated advocates updated on any change of address or phone number so that the advocates can keep them informed of any changes on the case.
“We are all eager to get back into the courtroom, but we know it will be a while before we can resume the pace we had prior to the COVID-19 shut down. Please keep in mind that this is just the beginning of our court system returning to normal. Your health and safety are our priorities,” Gonzales said.
To view the public letter to crime victims, click here.
To review the most recent minimum health protocols for court proceedings in Bexar County, click here.