A fall last week left Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai with a fractured ankle and knee injury that required surgery Tuesday. He made only a brief appearance at Commissioners Court using a wheelchair.

Sakai was in Austin meeting with state lawmakers to address overcrowding in the county jail when he fell and twisted his left ankle last week.

The accident occurred in the Capitol building outside the Senate Gallery around 11 a.m. on Feb. 28, according to staff members, but the judge continued with a full day of meetings before realizing the injury might be more significant than he had initially thought.

Sakai went to a doctor the next day and learned he had fractured his left ankle. He received a medical boot for the injured leg and planned to continue work.

Several days later, Sakai’s knee was still bothering him, spokesman Jim Lefko said. Sakai had his knee examined and learned he had also torn the meniscus, an injury that commonly occurs when a knee is twisted while bearing weight.

On Tuesday Sakai’s office said he was undergoing “minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery” to repair the cartilage. He anticipates a four- to six-week recovery period, during which he will continue working remotely and in-person as needed.

Sakai introduced Chabad Center for Jewish Life & Learning Senior Rabbi Chaim Block, who gave the opening prayer, and turned over the meeting to Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4), the most senior member of the court, who presided in Sakai’s place.

A metal ramp has been installed behind the dais in the Double-Height Courtroom at the Bexar County Courthouse for Sakai’s use while he is recovering.

“My team and I will be actively coordinating to ensure that the needs of our Bexar County residents and stakeholders are met with the same urgency, focus, and professionalism as usual,” Sakai said in a statement. “I look forward to a swift recovery.”

The 88th Legislative Session began in January, and both the city and county have long lists of legislative priorities, prompting Sakai’s trip to Austin. He was accompanied by his chief of staff Matthew Polanco and his security detail.

Sakai, a Democrat, previously served as a judge in 225th District Court, and has taken an active role in trying to address problems at the county jail. He was elected in the November after campaigning on plans for a more collaborative approach to county government, including working more closely with state leaders.

In a nod to both efforts, Bexar County recently declined to join a Dallas County lawsuit seeking to force the state to take responsibility for people in the county jail who have been deemed incompetent to stand trial.

Bexar County leaders are instead asking lawmakers for money to fund their own mental health treatment programs for people in the jail, while the state works to address staffing issues preventing it from serving those people in state hospitals.

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Andrea Drusch

Andrea Drusch writes about local government for the San Antonio Report. She's covered politics in Washington, D.C., and Texas for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, National Journal and Politico.