Two recent cases involving Harris County judges receiving threats is a part of a larger trend happening statewide.
KHOU 11 Investigates discovered while the number of so-called “security incidents” reported to the Texas Office of Court Administration has dropped 38 percent in the last three years, the number of threats against court workers reported to the agency increased.
According to the agency’s numbers, Texas courts reported 18 threats in 2014. The next year, threats dropped to five. But in 2016, 21 cases involving threats made against judges and court employees were reported.
And those figures may not be the complete picture. A spokesperson for the Office of Court Administration says the numbers only reflect threats received in, or around, court buildings.
In two recent cases involving threats sent to Harris County judges Brad Hart and George Powell, the threats were received while the judges were at home.
So what’s behind the increase in threats?
A spokesperson for the Office of Court Administration pointed to the 2015 shooting of a Travis County judge as having increased awareness and the need to report threats.
Just this year, state lawmakers passed a new courthouse security act aimed at better protecting judges and increased the penalties if someone is convicted of threatening a judge.