Threats Against Judge Prompt Security Improvements In Upshur County

Death threats against an East Texas judge. Now, Upshur County officials are increasing security at its courthouses.

A graphic, detailed threat of her sexual assault and murder has caused alarm at 115th District Court Judge Lauren Parish's office.

"I'm concerned, I have to be concerned," Judge Parish said.

It's the third time a written threat from an inmate has been mailed to Judge Parish. This one claims to be part of the Aryan Socialist Association wanting revenge.
Part of the letter says, "You live if I say live. You die if I say die. And guess what? It's your time to die!"

A similar letter to Judge Parish sent by an inmate last year, details the same violent acts, even telling her he would drink her blood.

"My biggest concerns are for our jurors and our people that come in from outside to conduct business or to participate in the justice system," Judge Parish said.

Because of the recent violence at courthouses, the county is taking these threats seriously.
Tuesday, the Upshur County Commissioners court took a stand to protect court employees.

"I think it's important that we take steps now," said Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler. "Heaven forbid that anything like that should happen here."

All courthouse security has been turned over to the sheriff's department. A second bailiff for Judge Parish's court at the Justice Center will be hired immediately.

The county will look to add more metal detectors at the county courthouse, where, currently, security is minimal.

"We're going to look at other options which include cameras being recorded and covering entrances," said Sheriff Anthony Betterton, "and the third floor of the court where the county court and clerk have to work."

Some of the entrances to the courthouses could be closed in the future. However, the Sheriff said his immediate concern is safety inside. Something that will bring peace of mind to Judge Parish and her employees.

Upshur County officials are meeting Thursday to discuss their security concerns. Judge Parish said she has also contacted the Texas Rangers and U.S. Marshals for expert opinions on how to improve security.

Maya Golden reporting,