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article imageAuthorities: Texas judge expected to survive Austin shooting

By Nathan Salant     Nov 8, 2015 in Crime
Austin - A Texas state presiding judge was shot and injured late Friday in a still unexplained attack in West Austin, authorities said Saturday.
The condition of District Judge Julie Kocurek, who presides over the 390th District Court in Austin, was upgraded to stable after initially being characterized as critical, according to the Austin Statesman-American newspaper.
Kocurek, who was appointed to the bench in 1999 by then Gov. George W. Bush, was shot in the driveway of her West Austin home late Friday as she returned home from a night out with friends.
No one else in the group was injured, the newspaper said, and Kocurek's injuries are not considered life-threatening.
Kocurek was taken to University Medical Center-Brackenridge after the 10:16 p.m. attack.
A neighbor in the fashionable Tarrytown neighborhood where Kocurek lives told the newspaper that she "just heard four pops" when the judge attacked.
There was no immediate indication that the attack was related to Kocurek's work, but she has been the presiding judge of Travis County since her appointment.
Kocurek switched her affiliation to the Democratic Party in 2011, the newspaper said.
“My job in the courtroom is not a political job, ” Kocurek said at the time.
“This is really about me just being honest with myself,” she said.
Local police mounted a furious ground and air search for possible assailants immediately after the shooting, but nighttime was hampering search efforts near Lake Austin, the newspaper said.
A white SUV was surrounded by crime-scene tape in front of Kocurek's Scenic Drive home.
Kocurek is credited with responsibility for overhauling Travis County's system for providing court-appointed defense counsel to indigent defendants.
She was presiding over prominent criminal cases involving Mark Norwood, a convicted murderer charged in the 1988 death of Debra Baker, and Dara Llorens, who is being tried for allegedly kidnapping her daughter in 2002.
"It's the most shocking news I have ever received," fellow Travis County judge David Wahlberg told the newspaper.
"Judge Kocurek is a wonderful woman . . . We are all praying for her,” he said.
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