McLennan County's new criminal district attorney, Josh Tetens, took office this week and is beginning to tackle a large number of backlogged cases.
According to Tetens, the office has roughly 3,000 cases to catch up on. Those cases include felonies, misdemeanors, and Child Protective Services cases.
Tetens officially assumed the role on Tuesday after defeating Democratic opponent Aubrey Robertson in the the November election. Previously, Tetens beat former district attorney Barry Johnson in the 2022 primary election.
He describes his strategy for handling the back-up as "dual prioritization".
"We're looking at violent offenses as well as the age of the case," Tetens said. "The older the case, the more violent the offense, those are the folks we're going to look at first and try to address as quickly as possible."
He said he already began to meet with victims and their families on Tuesday, who expressed frustration at the previous administration.
"They were frustrated with the former office, but they were hopeful and they were pleased our team was there," he said. "We had been briefed on their cases so we can actually have a conversation about that."
During his campaign, Tetens touted his role as a defense attorney and strong relationship with law enforcement. He promised to improve communication between the office and work to catch up on the cases that built up during the pandemic.
In the final weeks of the year, Tetens said he worked with Johnson to make the transition smooth.
He is currently working to fill open staff positions in the office, which he hopes to see completed within six weeks.
"This staff is a team. Whether you're handling a misdemeanor case, a juvenile case, a capital murder case—what can we do to help each other?" Tetens explained of the office after meeting with them on Tuesday.
He said addressing some of the challenges may take time to address, but vowed transparency with the public in the process.
"It is vital for the community to stay involved, to stay interested. I want them to hold me and this office accountable, but in that same vein, to be patient."