Travis County Judge Julie Kocurek is trying to shut Gov. Perry up. Or throw even more legal problems his way.
A Travis County grand jury indicted Perry last week, on two counts that criminalize free speech and the governor’s constitutional veto power.
The governor spoke out about the charges against him, as is his right, on Saturday.
Perry said, “I am confident that we will ultimately prevail, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is, and those responsible will be held accountable.”
That last part has Judge Kocurek fuming.
A state district judge from Austin said Thursday that she intends to protect members of the grand jury that indicted Gov. Rick Perry from any threats — veiled or direct — from the governor or anyone else.
Judge Julie Kocurek, the judge of the 390th District Court, said Perry’s comments Saturday, a day after the indictment, could be construed as a threat and a possible violation of the law. Kocurek, as the administrative presiding judge of all criminal courts in the county, said that “no one is above the law,” and the public needs to know that grand jurors are legally protected from any threat. “I have a duty to make sure that our members of the grand jury are protected,” Kocurek said. “I am defending the integrity of our grand jury system.”
Perry was clearly referring to the Travis County DA’s office and the Public Integrity Unit, through which he was indicted, in his Saturday comments, not the grand jury. The Travis County Public Integrity Unit has engaged in political prosecutions for decades. Under DA Ronnie Earle, it even went after Democrats now and then if they had crossed Earle. The Perry indictment follows the Delay and Hutchison cases and is seen by most as revenge by Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg, who was caught drunk driving in April 2013. Perry’s veto threat was aimed at restoring the PIU’s credibility by getting Lehmberg to step down. She refused. Democrats backed her, because if she resigned, Perry would get to appoint her replacement.
Perry’s whole involvment has been an attempt hold Lehmberg and the Travis County DA’s office accountable. Not the grand jury. No one has threatened anyone on the grand jury, though revelations after the indictment have suggested that politics played a role in their decisions.
Judge Kocurek is a former Republican, appointed to the bench in 1999 by Gov. George W. Bush. She later switched parties. Her misunderstanding of Perry’s obvious statement looks forced and convenient. It may be a set-up to use the law to muzzle the governor as he faces the charges.
The Texas Penal Code that outlaws obstruction and retaliation says that anyone who “intentionally or knowingly harms or threatens to harm” a grand juror can face a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
If a citizen files a complaint against Perry for violating the statute, the governor could face another grand jury investigation.
Watch Soros-funded Texans for Public Justice rush in to file a complaint.
As I keep saying, Travis County’s judiciary, its district attorney’s office and its jury pool are so tainted that he cannot receive a fair trail there.