Judges divided on extension of jury trial moratorium in Bexar County

Current plan expires Dec. 31

SAN ANTONIO – The moratorium on jury trials ordered in March over concerns about the spreading of COVID-19 will end on Dec. 31. The decision on whether to extend the moratorium is up to Local Administrative Judge Ron Rangel.

Rangel is expected to make a decision later this week and will likely extend the order.

“I’m fully supportive of Judge Rangel, and, basically, I think he’s erring on the side of caution,” Senior Civil District Judge Peter Sakai said Tuesday. “We know that we are in a current surge of COVID cases.”

Jury service resumption in Bexar County gets closer look

Several judges in the criminal, civil and misdemeanor courts at the Bexar County Courthouse are anxious to begin conducting in person jury trials.

“I believe that we should consider resuming jury trials on a case-by-case basis,” County Court 11 Judge Tommy Stolhandske said.

He was quick to add that trials should resume with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

Stolhandske said that after the nine-month moratorium, it’s now time to get back to work.

“I want to go ahead and start sending out the notices, and then if we see a spike like we’ve seen in the past day or two, we can make a decision to cancel those jurors,” he said.

Stolhandske also noted that Harris and Kendall counties have already resumed in-person jury trials.

About the Authors:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.