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New magistrate named for Hidalgo County

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Hidalgo County just recently welcomed a new magistrate judge to the team.

"We're going to build this from the ground up, so it's a challenge, but it's a challenge I am willing to take," Jail Magistrate for Hidalgo County Larry Esparza said.

Esparza fills a critical role that didn't exist before. It's all in an effort to address Hidalgo County's backlog of cases and overcrowding in the jail, problems that stemmed from the pandemic.

"We've got a lot of inmates waiting for their day in court," Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said. "This is historic for us in Hidalgo County because now we do have a jail magistrate, and we're looking forward to speeding up the criminal process system."

Esparza will work alongside the justices of the peace to perform arraignments.

"Currently, we probably have as many going out as we do coming in," Guerra said. "We can do double arraignments, so we can speed up the process."

Esparza says in one day there can be anywhere from five to 20 people getting arraigned, but he's confident that in this role he can free up some jail space.

"What I want to do, anticipate doing, is as soon as their paperwork is processed let's get them magistrated," Esparza said.

Hidalgo County is paying for the magistrate's position with a state grant.

Watch the video above for the full story.

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