‘Everybody is gearing up to restart’: Judges prepare for jury trials to start back up on Oct. 4

After 2 month hiatus, in-person hearings and trials set to return

SAN ANTONIO – Local judges are getting ready to get back into the swing of things as jury trials are set to begin on Oct. 4.

The courts have been closed to in-person trials since early August because of a surge in COVID-19 cases over the summer.

Administrative Judge Ron Rangel recently announced the restart of trials as cases are going back down.

“Everybody is gearing up to restart and see how far we can get before there’s another surge,” 226th Criminal District Court Judge Velia Meza said.

Meza has a busy docket this week as she works to prioritize 80 to 100 cases in her court.

“We’re trying to work through the backlog by identifying who has the most stays in custody, and how many times they have come to court trying to get their case settled or a jury trial,” Meza said.

But she made it clear that today is the deadline for any potential plea deals in her courtroom.

“Today is the last minute for anyone in my court,” Meza said. “I have cut off the ability to negotiate a plea. Once we know that we have a panel, we’re not going to waste that panel. So there’s no more room for negotiating at that point.”

The judges realize there is a potential for another shutdown if there is another surge in COVID cases, so right now they are trying to make the most of their time.

“It’s starting to become the norm, and we’re okay with that because we want to keep our community safe,” Meza said.

A reminder for those heading to the courthouse next, the mask mandate remains in place for all those entering the building and sitting in the gallery.

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About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.