Complaints detail ‘aggressive’ behavior from municipal court supervisor toward people she works with

Bernadette Munguia, promoted to senior warrant officer in December 2019, still not certified for position

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio Municipal Court supervisor was twice reported to court administration on allegations that she acted aggressively toward people she works with, personnel records released to the KSAT 12 Defenders confirm.

The incidents involving senior warrant officer Bernadette Munguia happened weeks apart earlier this year and came just months after court officials promoted her.

During the Defenders’ investigation into Munguia’s on duty behavior, officials admitted that she does not have the proper certification to hold the position of senior warrant officer.

“...you also embarrassed yourself and our department.”

In mid-March, a city employee assigned to the Central Magistrate’s Office filed a formal complaint against Munguia, accusing her of repeatedly shouting at the woman near the end of a shift.

“It was at first demeaning the way you addressed me to call me in the office. ‘Hey you! Come over here!’ is not an effective nor proper way to address someone,” the woman’s formal complaint against Munguia stated.

Records state Munguia yelled at the woman a second time after a coworker walked over and asked if she needed any help.

“Not only did you embarrass me in front of my coworkers, the judge and any officers who happen to be there but you also embarrassed yourself and our department,” the complaint states.

An eyewitness to the exchange later wrote of Munguia, “Her behavior during this time was certainly not reflective of anyone in a supervisory role. I feel the workplace should be free of any kind of bullying or intimidating behavior and I would hope the city has a zero tolerance stand against it because personally we should not stand for it.”

Clashes at work, chronic tardiness and vulgar social media posts. The city of San Antonio promoted him anyway.

Records show court administrators gathered written statements on the incident but officials have not said what, if any, punishment Munguia received for the alleged outbursts.

Weeks later, a Bexar County District Attorney’s Office supervisor made court administrators aware of a second incident involving Munguia.

An assistant district attorney assigned to the magistrate’s office was attempting to identify a repeat drunk driver suspect in early April when she accused Munguia of shoving paperwork at her and telling her she “just wasn’t listening,” records show.

“The entire interaction was extremely aggressive on her part,” the assistant district attorney later wrote.

Like the first complaint, records show city court administrators acknowledged the incident, but officials have not said if Munguia was disciplined for it.

Municipal Court Clerk Certification, Level II

Munguia has worked for the City of San Antonio since 2006 and was promoted to senior warrant officer in December, human resources records confirm.

A requirement of the supervisory position, however, is that the person obtain a Municipal Court Clerk Certification, Level II within 18 months of being hired.

Sources familiar with Munguia’s work history told the Defenders earlier this year she has so far failed in her attempts to get certified during her first 11 months in the position.

City court officials for weeks declined to answer questions about Munguia’s lack of certification and at one point said the Defenders would have to file another open records request for that information.

After the Defenders declined, officials finally acknowledged that Munguia has yet to get the proper certification.

Court Manager Yvonne Gomez sent the following statement via email earlier this month:

The City of San Antonio Municipal Court strives to address any complaints brought to our attention, including those pertaining to court personnel. When complaints are received, court leadership and COSA Human Resources department work together to determine what, if any action should be taken. Ms. Munguia has until June 2021 to obtain the required certification in accordance with job requirements.

After Munguia did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, the Defenders caught up with her as she arrived for a shift earlier this month.

Munguia did not answer questions about either workplace incident or her lack of certification before going into work through a side entrance.

Senior warrant officers help oversee the processing of arrested people brought to the Central Magistrate’s Office.

The office still has some Bexar County personnel assigned to it, even though the county opened its own intake office at the south end of the county jail in late 2018.

Court officials released details of the complaints against Munguia in late October, more than six months after the Defenders requested the information.


About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy-nominated photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.