A felony criminal district court judge in Travis County, Texas, was shot outside her home last night. Judge Julie Kocurek is also a former prosecutor. It is unknown whether the shooting is related to her duties as a criminal judge or prosecutor.
At about 10:16 p.m., a call was made to 9-1-1 that there had been a shooting at her home. EMS arrived and the judge was transported to University Medical Center-Brackenbridge in Austin. Her injuries are reported to be extremely serious but not life-threatening.
A neighbor of the judge told the Austin American-Statesman that she “just heard four pops.”
The Austin newspaper also reported that the judge had just returned to her home after being out and others were with her when she was shot.
Officer Mark Spangler, the head of the Austin Police Department robbery-homicide division said his division and the patrol division is investigating. He said they do not have a lot of information about the shooter, or persons responsible for the shootings. He said the crime was committed in the darkness.
Kocurek has served as the presiding judge of the 390th District Court since it was created in January of 1999. She was appointed to the bench by then Texas Governor George W. Bush. Since that time, she has handled several high profile cases, including cases involving Governor Rick Perry and former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, WYFF4 reported. She served as the criminal court administrative judge from 2011-14.
Kocurek’s strongly admonished Perry after he made public statements after his indictments in 2014. The judge suggested Perry’s denunciations of the indictments could be construed as a threat to the grand jurors, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Judge Kocurek was reported to say, “no one is above the law.”
The judge was also initially involved in a criminal complaint involving Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. She eventually recused herself from the case.
In the criminal complaint, the Statesman reported, former district attorney candidate Rick Reed alleged that Lehmberg was guilty of obstruction or retaliation, a third-degree felony. Lehmberg was alleged to have threatened corrections officers at the jail after her drunken driving arrest. The complaint quoted the district attorney as saying that the officers were “screwed” and will go to jail if they “don’t do something pretty quick,” according to the Statesman article.
As reported by the Statesman, Judge Kocurek was most recently overseeing the case of Mark Norwood. He was convicted in the infamous 1986 killing of Christine Morton, and is now facing charges in the 1988 death of Debra Baker. She was also presiding over the case of Dara Llorens, who was arrested in Mexico for the 2002 kidnapping of her daughter, Sabrina Allen.
Judge Kocurek was the only Republican in Travis County history to be elected to a state district bench.
In 1999, then Governor George W. Bush appointed Kocurek as judge of the newly created criminal court. A year later she defeated a Democrat challenger by a four percent margin. She later switched to the Democratic Party. Travis County has been predominately Democratic county.
Kocurek is the latest criminal law official who has been shot in Texas. In January of 2013, an assistant district attorney was shot and killed in Kaufman County outside the county courthouse where he worked. Prosecutor Mark Hasse was shot five times.
In March of 2013, Kaufman County Criminal District Attorney Mike McClelland and his wife were found dead. Both had been shot in their home.
Eric and Kim Williams were later tried and convicted for the Kaufman County murders. Eric Williams, a former attorney and justice of peace in Kaufman County had been convicted of theft and burglary while a judge. Williams had been prosecuted by McClelland and Hasse.
This article has been updated with additional information.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as an associate judge and prosecutor. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2