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Bexar County resumes in-person court proceedings with remote options still available

Safety protocols are in place for the in-person court proceedings, which follow CDC guidelines.

SAN ANTONIO — The pandemic has changed the way of life for everyone, including the flow of the court system.

It was March 2020 when in-person court proceedings were put on pause in exchange for Zoom serving as the alternative.

“The issue is you can only so do so much through a virtual setting,” said Local Administrative Judge Ron Rangel.

Under guidelines submitted by Rangel, Bexar County courts can resume in-person proceedings as of April 5.

“Before today in Bexar County, courts had to sort of show why their particular case had to be in court. Now every judge had the right to have an in-court proceeding as long as they follow the minimum standard protocols,” Rangel said.

Safety protocols include temperature checks before people enter the court house, being asked a series of coronavirus-related questions and mandating masks to be worn while keeping six-feet apart.

There remains concern among some in the legal community regarding a mounting backlog of cases.

“This isn’t something that’s going to go disappear overnight,” said local attorney Joseph Hoelscher.

In-person jury trials will return to Bexar County on a limited basis within six-eight weeks, according to the new guidelines.

Hoelscher acknowledges the implemented safety measures but he still has questions.

“Are we jeopardizing our judges, our we jeopardizing lawyers, are we jeopardizing our clients that come to court and for a lot of people who haven’t been vaccinated or who have health concerns, reopening really isn’t the best decision.”

“We don’t want anybody to feel compelled currently to feel like they have to come in. Any party that is in an in-person proceeding other than a juror that desires to have their particular portion of the trial done through video conferencing has the right to do that through the plan we just filed,” Rangel said.