Open Court: Jury trials on hold again, plus get to know Judge Monique Diaz

The Open Court newsletter brings you the biggest stories in the criminal justice system in San Antonio, Bexar County and beyond

150th Civil District Court Judge Monique Diaz (Courtesy: Judge Monique Diaz)

Bexar County Courts saw another setback this week as omicron has caused in-person jury trials to be put on hold until March 1.

This is the third time the courts have had to stop jury trials because of COVID-19.

We are still awaiting several high-profile trials to take place in the first half of the year including that of Andre McDonald and Emond Johnson.

As we wait for trials to start back up there are some important hearings expected to take place to make sure cases are moving along.

We continue to follow them and bring you all the latest court news as it takes place. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we can get back into the courtroom in the spring.

The Docket

Here’s a look at trials and court proceedings we can expect in the coming weeks. These dates are subject to change and could be rescheduled.

Beatrice Sampayo: Charged with tampering with evidence in the death of 8-month-old King Jay. Sampayo is accused of helping stage a kidnapping and cover-up of the baby’s death. A hearing for her is scheduled for Jan. 24.

Damion Campbell: Charged with murder and two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Campbell is alleged to be behind a deadly barbershop attack in 2020. A hearing for Campbell is scheduled for Jan. 28.

Andres Martinez: Charged with the double murder of a 14-year-old boy and a 60-year-old man in 2018. Martinez is one of three who were charged in this case. He has taken a plea deal and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 31.

Get to Know

Judge Monique Diaz

150th Civil District Court Judge Monique Diaz (Courtesy: Judge Monique Diaz)

Born and raised in San Antonio, Judge Monique Diaz presides over the 150th Civil Distict Court, Family Drug Court and Early Childhood Intervention specialty courts.

A graduate of Winston Churchill High School and St. Mary’s School of Law, Diaz previously had her own legal practice representing low-income families, victims of domestic violence, small businesses, nonprofits and governmental entities.

In the public sector, she served as City Attorney and City Prosecutor for 8 South Texas cities, where she was charged with the duties of drafting and enforcing laws, writing codes of ethics, and investigating ethics complaints against elected officials.

Since becoming the 150th Civil District Judge, she said she continues to try to help the community.

“Improving outcomes for the most vulnerable families and children in our community has been the most challenging and the most rewarding part of my job,” Diaz told KSAT 12.

Right now, as a Co-Chair of the Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence, she is hoping they can help families dealing with domestic abuse.

“Together, with a focus on early intervention and prevention, we provide families wraparound services for holistic healing proven to break generational cycles of child and domestic abuse,” Diaz said.

When she’s not in the courtroom, Diaz enjoys spending time with her husband, family, her cat Pico De Gato and dog JaSpur.

Legal Glossary

There are often terms used in a courtroom that sound more like legal jargon than natural language. Even after years of covering court proceedings, I sometimes have to look up words to refresh my memory or make sure I fully understand them. In each newsletter, I include a different word or phrase so we can build our knowledge and understanding of the courtroom together.

Allen Charge: This is an instruction given by the court to the jury who is deadlocked. The instruction is to encourage the jury to continue to deliberate until they reach a verdict.

Closing Argument

A new year means new court content headed your way. We are bringing “The Back Story” series back with an in-depth look at upcoming high-profile cases.

As of right now, we hope to release two in the first half of this year. Also, stay on the lookout for some videos on KSAT’s social media pages that will give you a quick overview of upcoming cases as well.

The Open Court newsletter will also take a closer look at some judicial races and talk to the candidates for the midterm elections.

A lot to look forward to in 2022 and we hope you follow along.

Thanks for reading,

Erica Hernandez, KSAT 12 Court Reporter

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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.