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Bexar County criminal district courts operating under new order

'In person’ hearings held only in essential cases

SAN ANTONIO – In accordance with a special order issued this week by Administrative Judge Ron Rangel, state district courts in Bexar County will conduct in-person hearings that will be handled by a presiding judge on a rotating basis.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a temporary halt in jury service, allowing only hearings in criminal cases.

Only cases involving defendants who are in jail, considered essential cases, will be heard in person before a judge.

Rangel said that the judges have been able to hear about five cases an hour.

“We want to move these cases through,” Rangel said. “We want to filter them to where they either result in a case being disposed of, either through a plea or dismissal, or whatever the case may be.”

Rangel said his order allows misdemeanor case hearings to be held remotely.

“The judge can have hearings from a different office, from the courtroom, without anybody actually being in the courtroom or even in their home,” Rangel explained.

He said he is optimistic about the new order’s future.

“We want to make sure to protect the public and, at the same time, ensure that justice is being done in these courtrooms,” he said.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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