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Frustration continues over prosecutor shortage at Nueces County DA's Office

First assistant district attorney, Angelica Hernandez said the DA’s office was down 12 prosecutors
Posted at 5:45 PM, Jul 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-19 18:45:58-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx — During Tuesday’s board of judges meeting at the Nueces County Courthouse, officials expressed continued frustration about the revolving door of prosecutors at the district attorney’s office.

“To come here every month and to repeat the same information is not helpful,” Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said.

In the meeting, first assistant district attorney, Angelica Hernandez said the DA’s office was down 12 prosecutors

She said because of the vacancies, the current prosecutors are struggling to keep up with the caseload and the backlog is ultimately leading to overcrowding at the Nueces County Jail.

“We can only try so many cases and if we don’t have a prosecutor to try the cases or if we don’t have an experienced prosecutor to try a capital murder case or murder case,” Sandra Watts, the 117th  district judge said.

Hernandez said the problem is pay.

“Right now we are about ten to fifteen thousand dollars below everyone else’s starting range on any given felony position,” Hernandez said.

Canales said Nueces County has always paid prosecutors lower than some surrounding counties.

“People are starving to get trial experience when they are mentored, when they are inspired, when there are great strategies and great people working together,” Canales said.

Canales suggested getting a committee together to go to different law school schools to try and recruit but Hernandez said they aren’t lacking the number of people looking at the job.

“We’re getting 600 plus clicks on our job application and then no applicants so that tells me there’s something they’re seeing in the job description is telling them that they don’t want to apply,” Hernandez said.

She said prosecutor shortages are a problem across the state including the attorney general’s office.

Presiding judge Carlos Valdez called for a special meeting in the coming weeks with the judges and district attorney Mark Gonzalez to talk about actions they can take to help get more prosecutors in the courtrooms.

Gonzalez was not at Tuesday’s meeting.