Hidalgo Co. judge's actions wipe out guilty pleas

It's deja vu at the Hidalgo County Court at Law Number One.

About a dozen defendants who entered guilty pleas on Monday will have to go back and do it again.

County Court At Law Judge Rudy Gonzalez was not in the courtroom at the time, and decided instead to address the defendants and clients over the phone.

But the District Attorney said while his intentions were good, it is improper and illegal to take pleas over the phone.

"The state code of criminal procedures requires a judge to look at the defendant and see him in the courtroom and make sure the person is of sound mind and body," Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra explained. "A judge must make those kind of findings, which is why it requires a judge's presence."

Judges are allowed to arraign jail cases via video conference.