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.
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE FROM KSAT:
- Explained: San Antonio, Bexar County issue ‘Stay Home, Work Safe’ order. Here’s what that means.
- Here’s what we know about the confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Antonio
- Map: Track COVID-19 cases in Texas, county-by-county updates
- These are all the Texas cities and counties that have issued stay-at-home orders
- ‘We have community transmission now.’ Bexar County changes tactics from containment to mitigation
- Unemployment claims are soaring. What to do if you lose your job
- Map: Where San Antonio-area students can find free school meals during closures
- Texas governor bans dine-in eating, gatherings of 10+ through April 3
- SAQ: Your coronavirus questions answered
- Explained: New declarations of emergency issued in San Antonio and Bexar County
- 8 ways to help your fellow San Antonians during coronavirus pandemic
- The ultimate coronavirus guide: From preparedness and prevention to testing and treatment
- Track live coronavirus updates in the US, globally with real-time maps of confirmed cases, deaths
- Social distancing and hungry? These San Antonio-area restaurants are offering To-Go deals
- Resources: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, City of San Antonio