Backlog of 2,000 family violence cases has new Bexar County DA making changes

Joe Gonzales battling backlog while fielding unprecedented number of new cases

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The number of domestic violence cases in Bexar County is at an all-time high, making it challenging for the new district attorney to put a dent in the massive backlog of cases.

The family violence prosecutors are overworked and overwhelmed, and there is no clear end in sight.

"They're working on weekends. They're working after hours," Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said.

When Gonzales took office on Jan. 1, he pulled numbers and determined he had to take on a 2,000-case backlog. Those are all the felony cases in which the suspect is somehow related to the victim.

Since the start of the year, his office has also received more than 1,000 new family violence cases.

"We have to continue to process the new ones as well as the backlog, and we've gone through a good number of those cases," Gonzales said.

Gonzales said he had to restructure and reallocate his resources to make a dent. He first made the Family Violence Unit a separate stand-alone division, rather than having it fall under the Special Crimes Unit.

"I also increased the number of family violence prosecutors from 22 to 35. What I did was move them from other divisions," he said.

Thirty-five prosecutors may seem like a lot, "but when it's compared to Dallas County or Harris County, for example, it's less than they have, and we have just as much crime as they do. So we are hoping to increase the number of prosecutors," Gonzales said.

Despite the uphill battle, Gonzales is staying confident.

"Considering we're only 100 days in, I feel very good about the progress that we've made because we have a very dedicated staff," he said.

Gonzales said the survivors in backlogged cases should check in with the attorneys and advocates in his office. He also urged anyone currently suffering abuse to report it and seek help that's readily available. 

There is a long list of resources on the KSAT website on the domestic violence page. The resource list is at the top left of that page.

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