Security at the Kleberg County Courthouse has been called into question by District Judge Angelica Hernandez, who is refusing to hold court until the issue is addressed.
Hernandez, whose 105th district extends to Kleberg County, said she fears for her life and for the lives of all those who work and do business there.
In the order, Hernandez wrote, "The issue is no longer if the violence will occur, but rather, when the violence is going to occur."
"I'm absolutely fearful of what's going to happen, because I don't know what the people are carrying," Hernandez said. "I don't know what's in their backpacks. I don't know what's in their purses. I don't know what the defendants are going to do."
At the request of the judge, members of the U.S. Marshals' Judicial Security Team conducted a survey of the building, confirming security risks do exist at the Kleberg County Courthouse. For that reason, the judge said she is going to limit her presence in the courthouse.
"I'm not going to hold court in Kleberg County other than trial," Hernandez said. "By statute, I have to hold trials here, but other than that, I'll be holding court at the Annex, which is next to the Sheriff's Office. I'll be transferring cases and holding court in Nueces and Kenedy County as well."
Kleberg County Sheriff Ed Mata said he is aware of the lack of security. The issue has been brought to the attention of county commissioners in the past, but nothing has been done. Now, a major review is being done, and Mata hopes this one will get proper attention.
"Nobody expected Boston. Nobody expected the disaster in West, Texas, where they had, where first responders got hurt," Mata said. "Why? Did we property plan or did we not properly plan? People don't fail, we just fail to plan."
County Judge Juan Escobar said that he, too, is aware of the lack security.
"I realize and I understand that there is a security issue here. We're very aware, as a commissioners court, about that," Escobar said. "But in talking to the sheriff earlier today, it still goes back to the sheriff."
The sheriff said that, this time, his recommendations for security upgrades will include the U.S. Marshals' findings, hoping that this time county commissioners will follow though in making sure security at the Kleberg County Courthouse is a top priority.
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