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Judge Gravell urges more security for Judges in Texas, KVUE News

Mar 30, 2017

Austin, Texas- Almost a year and a half after someone tried to shoot and kill district Judge Julie Kocurek, she spoke to state lawmakers, urging for more security measures for judges in Texas.

Monday, Kocurek testified at the Senate Committee on State Affairs.

She told them about the night someone shot at her as she returned to her home from a high school football game.

Now, she wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.That’s why she’s supporting Senator Judith Zaffarini’s Senate Bill 42.

It would do several things, including requiring that law enforcement agencies provide security for the courthouse and give a written report to the presiding judge as well as the Office of Court Administration if there’s an incident regarding security.

Although there was a reported death threat on Kocurek, no one told her, or any of the other judges about it.

The bill would allow a court to create a security committee and establish security policies and procedures, as well as allow a $5 filing fee for a civil action; that would go towards a training fund for courthouse security officers. Law enforcement would have to provide personal security to a judge who has been threatened or attacked, as well as their spouse, even if it’s outside their jurisdiction. Lastly, the bill would allow county clerks to remove personal information about a federal and state judge, as well as their spouse from public documents, like their home address.

Late last year, Williamson County Judge Stacey Mathews got a threat from a man who said he wanted to blow her house up.

Senator Zaffarini  called the bill the “Judge Julie Kocurek Judicial and Courthouse Security Act of 2017.” She said it will address the deficiencies in the state’s security system.

A survey from Office of Court Administration revealed that two-thirds of judges do not know of or have a court security plan, and more than 30 percent of judges were aware of a security incident in the past year.

Williamson County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Bill Gravell supports the bill.

“It’s important that our judges have the ability to focus on their job and not be worried about the risk of security,” said Gravell. “Security is pretty important.”

He said his court is the 22nd busiest judicial court in Texas, and in the last four years he has signed 14,000 arrest warrants.

“As a judge, you anger people sometimes with the choices that you make, and unequivocally, I feel like there’s a target on our back,” said Gravell.

He appreciates law enforcement for keeping an eye on judges.

“In justice court, we have constables and deputies that protect us on a regular basis and I know there are literally individuals who would lose their life for me in my courtroom,” said Gravell.  “I just wish I had that same secure feeling as I travel about the community. But as a judge, you’re cognizant of that and you always pay attention to what you say and do.”

The bill passed the Senate Committee and now will go to the Senate floor.

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