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Published on April 17, 2024
Bexar County First Assistant DA Christian Henricksen Resigns, Tamara Strauch to Step InSource: Google Street View

Christian Henricksen, the right-hand man of Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, is stepping down from his post as first assistant district attorney. Ending a chapter that saw significant shifts in local criminal justice policy, Henricksen will depart on April 26, as confirmed by statements from the District Attorney's office reported by the San Antonio Report.

Renowned for his role in shaping a cite-and-release program aimed at keeping non-violent, petty offenders out of jail, Henricksen has been a staple in Gonzales' team since his election in 2018. His resignation draws a close to a tenure that focused on restorative justice and the expansion of specialty courts, as detailed in a joint statement released by his office. Despite drawing fire from some political and legal quarters, Gonzales hailed Henricksen as a "true and loyal friend" in a recent news release, underscoring the impact of their cooperative efforts which include progressive reforms in tackling low-level crimes such as minor marijuana possession.

Under Henricksen's guidance, the DA's office became a pivot point for progressive criminal justice reforms that, while causing considerable controversy, ultimately contributed to Gonzales' re-election in 2022 with a 56% majority, as noted in the San Antonio Report. However, Henricksen's close ties with the Austin-based Wren Collective, a criminal justice reform group, raised eyebrows over potentially excessive access to the DA's decision-making process – a concern highlighted by an investigation conducted by KSAT.

Despite such scrutiny, Henricksen and Gonzales staunchly defended their relationship with the Wren Collective. According to an interview with the Express-News earlier this year, Henricksen said of their collaboration, "They helped us a lot ... Jessica, in particular, helped us put together a lot of the information that we needed to inform our decisions on criminal justice reform. I’m proud of the work that we’ve done on criminal justice reform. They helped us get the information that we needed to make good decisions." This collaboration was focuses on issues such as reforming bail procedures and the treatment of trespassing cases related to the homeless.

Tamara Strauch, presently the chief of the Felony Criminal Trial Division in Gonzales' office, is slated to fill the vacancy left by Henricksen, as announced by a spokesperson for the DA's office. Henricksen, citing a new opportunity and the impending college years of his children as reasons for his departure, declined to outline his future plans when reached by phone on Tuesday. "I have an opportunity I cannot pass up and, as my children get closer and closer to college age, that becomes more and more important,” he conveyed in a news release cited by the Express-News.