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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Commissioners Court approves needs of district attorney’s office

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Star file photo

At its March 28 meeting, the Hays County Commissioners Court discussed and voted on Criminal Defense Attorney (CDA) office to hire five new positions. These positions would help reduce a backlog of unfiled cases and improve the needs of victims of domestic violence and stalking cases.
The first part of the request from the district attorney’s office is for two attorneys and a legal assistant to clear a backlog that was discovered upon coming into the administration, according to First Assistant District Attorney Greg Cox.
“In an office this size with the number of cases that this office receives each year, a healthy intake would give us between 800 and 1,200 cases,” Cox said. “We discovered we had 5,600 cases in the backlog.”
It was found that there were offenses and arrest dates from the summer and fall of 2021 that had not been assigned to an attorney.
“It harms victims, it harms the defendant and it harms the jail overcrowding system,” Cox said. “We are trying our best to remedy that.”
The second request is to have a Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) and paralegal to better assist the needs of victims of domestic violence and stalking cases.
“We have VACs and one is assigned to each court,” Cox said. “We need someone from court to court with safety planning and assessment doing all the thing that it takes to ensure the safety of those victims.”
The DA’s office has a new process for getting prosecutors involved five days after an arrest. It wants VACs to be able to engage with victims in earlier stages of the cases.
“What we are finding out on these older cases is we are reaching out to victims and they have moved on,” Cox said. “They don’t want to pursue the case anymore, they may have reunited with the abuser.”
According to Cox, there’s been an increase in protective orders the DA’s office is assisting with since last year, and there is a need for a paralegal.
“We fully expect with adding a VAC that with safety planning, protective orders will be a bigger part of that, and we will see more of an increase,” Cox said. “We need a paralegal to work on the protective orders, and do all of the paperwork.”
Judge Ruben Becerra expressed his support for Cox’s leadership and the need for action.
“These are our neighbors whether they are guilty or innocent, we need to give them their day in court,” Becerra said. “Just leaving them in jail for an unnecessary amount of time serves no one.”
The court voted unanimously, and the action is effective May 1, 2023.
The Hays County Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. on select Tuesdays each month. For more information, visit its website.

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