SAN ANTONIO – Many people charged with crimes in Bexar County are now being magistrated twice, first by a city magistrate and then by a county magistrate, causing an unnecessary duplication of services, officials said.
“It’s confusing to arrestees. When arrestees are magistrated twice, they have no idea why or how, or when to show up to court,” said 379th District Judge Ron Rangel, a proponent of the county handling the magistration process.
“The fact that the city is magistrating them first currently is adding anywhere between six to 10 hours of time that an individual has been in custody, prior to being released," said Rangel.
The issue came to light this week after the arrest of 29-year-old Logan Harvill, who was taken into custody by San Antonio police and then seen by a city magistrate, who set his bond at $1 million.
Harvill was then transferred to the Bexar County Jail and seen by a county magistrate, who set his bond at $150,000.
Officials said the county bond amount was the figure that applied to Harvill, who remained jailed as of Thursday evening.
His victim, three-year-old Christian Paz, died from his injuries.
Arrest records for Harvill indicate that he beat Christian with a belt, causing the boy’s death.
No comment from the city
A San Antonio municipal court administrator reached for comment this week declined to release a statement, but did say via email that he also did not understand why arrested individuals were being magistrated twice.
Rangel said starting Jan. 2, the county began magistrating all people brought to the Bexar County Jail.
The move came two months after county commissioners brought back both full-time and part-time magistrate judges.
The decision was a reversal of an arrangement made in April 2019 to have the county contract with the city to have the city handle magistrations.
Rangel called the county magistrating all individuals who come into the jail a best practice, pointing out that it sets the proper jurisdiction and ensures that a public defender is available for defendants, when needed.
He also said during a meeting Wednesday that officials were told the best practices of bail reform are being used by the county on a more and more frequent basis.
“The best process would be for the county to magistrate everybody,” said Rangel.