TX Chief Justice: More Security Needed for Courts

Bail reform. More e-filing. More legal services for veterans and victims of sexual assault.

Chief Justice Nathan Hect set out a large to do list for the Texas Legislature during his “State of the Texas Judiciary Address” Wednesday Morning.

At the top of that list–Hect used a heartwarming moment to help illustrate his point, telling the story of Judge Julie Kocurek. You may remember Kocurek was ambushed outside of her Austin home in November of 2015. Police said she was shot by a defendant who had appeared in her court.

More than a year later, Kocurek has returned to the Bench following an ordeal that included dozens of surgeries, and a finger lost as a result of the attack.

“Ladies and gentleman… it is my privilege to present to you one of the Texas Judiciary’s heroes… Judge of the 390th District Court of Travis County… Julie Kocurek and her family” Hect said, presenting Kocurek to the Legislature.

The introduction drew nearly one minute of applause, leading Hect to his point.

“The attack on Judge Kocurek highlights the need for Statewide improvements in judicial security” Hect said, pointing out a number of problems he believes need correcting.

“The ready availability of judges personal information in publicly searchable government databases” Hect said, pointing to one the issues.

The Chief Justice is calling for a series of changes aimed at both increasing courthouse safety in Texas–as well as security for judges who are threatened. Those suggestions include appointing a new “Director of State Judicial Security” to oversee security plans and initiatives across the Lone Star State.

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