SAN ANTONIO – In-person jury trials have been suspended for more than a month due to the current rise in COVID-19 cases in Bexar County.
As a result, the total number of cases pending trial stands at 9,303 — a 62% increase from March 2020, when there were 5,758 pending cases.
Bexar County courts made some headway on clearing some of those cases when jury trials returned for two months this summer, but the Delta variant forced Administrative Judge Ron Rangel to put a stop to them for the second time on Aug. 4.
The pandemic has forced judges to become more acclimated to virtual hearings and has increased virtual access to defendants in the Bexar County jail, which is saving taxpayers’ money.
“The judges have really learned how to use technology in a way that allows us to process cases efficiently,” Rangel said. “More than anything, we’ve had a lot of support from the sheriff, so we’re able to do a lot of the hearings remotely through the jail, which is saving a lot of money.”
While there is no way of telling when jury trials will begin again, Rangel is hoping to lift the current moratorium this fall.
“If we fall into the medium transmission range, which is possible to happen by early October, then we’ll consider beginning in-person jury trials again,” Rangel said.
In the meantime, some hearings are taking place in-person on certain days of the week but the majority of judges will continue to hear cases virtually.