Texas Judges Not Warned of Safety Threat Prior to Shooting of Judge

Judge shooting in Austin - Crime Scene - Crime Scene Photo Jay Janner-AP-AAS
AP File Photo via Austin American Statesman/Jay Janner

A criminal court judge in Travis County, Texas, is angry that she and her fellow judges were not warned of a safety threat prior to the attempted murder of a fellow judge. County authorities did not notify the judges and simply ruled out the threat as not credible.

Criminal district court judge Brenda Kennedy told KVUE ABC, “Our security was compromised by not having this information.”

Breitbart Texas reported that felony criminal district court Judge Julie Kocurek was shot outside of her home in Travis County on November 6. The judge had just returned to her home after being out and others were with her when she was shot in the darkness.

Breitbart Texas reported that when her driver got out of her car to clear a pathway on the driveway, an assailant opened fire striking the judge. Law enforcement officials told the Austin American-Statesman it appeared that the judge was struck by “flying glass and shrapnel,” rather than being directly hit by a bullet. No other passengers were injured. A bag of trash had been placed in front of her security gate blocking access to the driveway.

Chimene Onyeri, who reportedly had a case pending before Judge Kocurek, was taken into custody a few days after the shooting, as reported by Breitbart Texas. He was arrested following a traffic stop in Houston. He is still in a Houston jail on an unrelated murder charge and is being called a “person of interest” in Kocurek’s shooting.

KVUE reported that court documents showed that county authorities were given notice of a threat about two weeks before the early November shooting.

Farrell White was reported to have called a Travis County District Attorney investigator. She allegedly told him that Onyeri and Calvin Green discussed plans to kill a Travis County district court judge. The investigator was reported to have ruled out the threat after conducting a threat assessment. White had been in a relationship with Onyeri.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg told the local ABC affiliate that her office did everything possible to investigate the threat. She said they also notified security personnel at the courthouse.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office was reported to confirm that the agency did not alert the judges because the threat was not specific.

Judge Kennedy said, “It might have made a difference in the judge’s attitude, as far as looking at her surroundings, and being more careful,” the judge said of Kocurek.

The judge also said her colleagues said they should have been notified whether the threat was deemed credible or not.

“A couple of them wanted to do an investigation about why we didn’t know, They don’t understand why we didn’t know,” Kennedy told KVUE.

The judges met with security staff this week to discuss increased security at work and home, and notification of judges in the event of a threat.

Judge Kocurek is still in the hospital recuperating.

No one has been charged in her attempted murder.

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