Man posing as lawyer files papers to free inmate, puts court on alert


Highlights

A courthouse security bulletin warns that Craig A. Nehrkorn had posed as an attorney.

Security at the courthouse has been an issue since an attempt on the life of Judge Julie Kocurek.

A man posing as a lawyer this week managed to get his “client” a personal recognizance bond from a judge despite having no law license.

The incident Monday triggered a security alert at the Travis County courthouse, where a bulletin issued to staff members warned them that the man, 36-year-old Craig A. Nehrkorn, had posed as an attorney, according to a copy of the security bulletin obtained by the American-Statesman.

“It’s extremely troubling for many reasons, including the safety and security of the judge and municipal court personnel working at central booking,” Sherry Statman, the lead judge for Austin’s municipal court system, said in an email.

Security at the Travis County courthouse in particular has been a hot-button issue since an assassination attempt was made on state District Court Judge Julie Kocurek. A bill known as the Judge Julie Kocurek Judicial and Courthouse Security Act that will address courthouse security is making its way through the Legislature. The measure would, among other things, require that judges and courthouse employees receive enhanced security training that would be paid for with a $5 increase to civil court filing fees.

RELATED: With riveting words from Julie Kocurek, son, court security bill OK’d

According to the alert, Nehrkorn entered the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center at 9:26 p.m. with a woman. He told a deputy she was there to meet with pretrial services to submit an affidavit to allow for the release of a man who Nehrkorn identified as his client.

Pretrial services met with Nehrkorn before he was later sent down to the on-duty judge who granted a personal recognizance bond for the man Nehrkorn was purported to be legally representing. The personal bond essentially authorizes the release of an inmate without the person having to pay bail.

After the judge signed the paperwork, it was discovered that the inmate had no attorney on record. The judge then asked for Nehrkorn’s Texas State Bar ID number.

It was then that Nehrkorn admitted he wasn’t an attorney and said he was a legal assistant. The magistrate judge then asked Nehrkorn to leave the judge’s office, and he was escorted out of the building without incident.

Authorities wouldn’t identify the inmate or the judge, and a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office wouldn’t provide any further details about the incident, citing an ongoing investigation.

Statman said she will meet with the head of pretrial services and a lieutenant at the sheriff’s office to discuss how the incident happened.

“I’ve suggested we look towards establishing a protocol wherein a lawyer who is not known to pretrial services and/or doesn’t have a county issued ID for the criminal courthouse must show his or her bar card well before he or she is admitted the judges’ office,” Statman said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Central Texas continues to grow older, more diverse
Central Texas continues to grow older, more diverse

Central Texas counties owe their chart-topping growth to expanding minority populations, according to new U.S. Census estimates released Thursday. The numbers also show that the greater Austin area, in keeping with a national trend, is getting older. Here’s what you need to know about Austin-area population shifts: 1. Central Texas is becoming...
3 asylum seekers separated from their children sue federal government
3 asylum seekers separated from their children sue federal government

Three Central American asylum seekers are suing the federal government after they were separated from their children. The three plaintiffs are suing the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies. They also name 10 government officials.  According...
City Council members to get a firsthand glance at Tornillo’s ‘tent city’
City Council members to get a firsthand glance at Tornillo’s ‘tent city’

Outfitted with his Canon camera and a telephoto lens, Austin Mayor Steve Adler got his first look at the burgeoning “tent city” of Tornillo on Wednesday evening. The brief glance came a day ahead of a scheduled protest at the Tornillo port of call along the Mexican border, where Adler, nearly the entire Austin City Council and mayors from...
Granite Shoals man convicted of child sexual abuse sentenced to 645 years in prison
Granite Shoals man convicted of child sexual abuse sentenced to 645 years in prison

A man from Granite Shoals was sentenced Tuesday to 645 years in prison for 13 separate child sexual abuse offenses, the 33rd and 424th District Attorney’s office said Wednesday. Bryant Edward Dulin, 46, was sentenced following a jury trial that lasted seven days, the district attorney’s office said in a news release. Three separate cases...
Texans in Congress react to Trump’s reversal on family separation
Texans in Congress react to Trump’s reversal on family separation

Texas members of Congress and statewide elected officials reacted Wednesday to President Donald Trump’s decision to halt his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained illegally crossing the U.S. border: “I think a zero tolerance policy is exactly correct. I think a family unification...
More Stories