Sheriff making changes at the Bexar County jail to address court case backlog

Virtual hearings to increase within the jail

SAN ANTONIO – When Administrative Judge Ron Rangel reached out to members of the criminal justice system in San Antonio for help to address the 66% drop in the increase of cases awaiting trial as a result of a backlog created by a moratorium on jury service, it didn’t take long for the sheriff to respond.

”We’re going to make sure that the jail is not the reason for that backlog”, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Thursday.

He said he is making additional space available in order so that more virtual hearings can be conducted at the jail.

”The reality of it is virtual hearings take up a lot more time,” Rangel said as he welcomed the sheriff’s help. ”There’s a lot more work as it relates to setting them up.”

The sheriff said, “We’ve added a whole bunch of computers and we’ve actually brought some deputies from the courthouse to the jail.”

The backlog has also added to the overcrowded conditions at the jail, which have grown as a result of the Texas Department of Corrections not accepting prisoners due to the pandemic, according to Salazar.

“We’re doing everything we can behind the scenes to keep the process moving,” Salazar said. “We know that jury trials are going to be put off for the foreseeable future.”

RELATED: District judge says she is ‘fearful’ of COVID-19 risks related to recent courtroom clerk transfers


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.