SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales announced Friday that six County Court at Law judges have agreed to take on misdemeanor family violence cases in an effort to relieve the huge overload of pending cases.
Prior to Friday, only County Court at Law 7 and 13 were assigned such cases. But due to the COVID-19 protocols in effect, all courts ceased having jury trials and most moved to virtual hearings, which resulted in a much slower process than in-person hearings and an increase in 1,500 cases.
“Thousands of (family violence) survivors are facing a very long wait for justice,” Gonzales said of the backload.
Thanks to judges Alfredo Ximenez, John Longoria, Mary Roman, Tommy Stolhandske, Carlo Key and Melissa Vara, who don’t normally handle such cases, the caseloads for judges Michael De Leon and Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez will be reduced, Gonzales said.
Prior to the pandemic, there were 3,000 family violence cases pending. Now, there are 4,500.
“These cases being assigned to more courts means they will get even more attention by our staff, judges and, eventually, juries,” Gonzales said. “It may also lead to quicker and more successful prosecutions of family violence cases. I am grateful the judges recognize the importance of these cases and that they are willing to increase their workload to help their fellow judges.”
Roman said she decided to take on the cases because “it is an issue that affects families in this community.”
“Bottom line, this is about saving lives,” De Leon said.