Court backlog creates challenges for Bexar County district attorney

DA encourages prosecutors to consider plea bargains

SAN ANTONIO – The number of court cases awaiting trial continues to grow at an alarming rate, and Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales is wrestling with ways to resolve the cases.

It has been almost a year since a moratorium on jury service was ordered due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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

Absent jury trials, Gonzales has pre-trial diversions and plea bargains among his options for resolving cases.

“I’ve been encouraging our prosecutors to look at cases, to take a closer look at those cases, to see if there’s any potential to resolve them with a plea bargain,” Gonzales said Tuesday.

He added, however, that plea bargains are often a challenge.

“It takes all parties,” Gonzales said. “It takes the willingness of defense attorneys, the willingness of the accused and the willingness of courts to work with us.”

Another issue Gonzales said he must deal with is contacting victims.

“Our biggest problem is some of them, over time, lose interest,” he said. “They may move away, so we’re trying to keep in contact with them, and we’re basically telling them to hold on.”

“To those victims that we haven’t been able to reach, please don’t think that we’ve forgotten about you.”

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.