Controversy over a judge’s recent decision has made its way into the race for Governor of Texas. Sixteen year old Ethan Couch was sentenced recently to ten years probation for killing four people while driving with a blood alcohol level that was three times the legal limit. A crash expert who investigated the scene said that he never even braked. The defense in Couch’s trial argued that ultimately, the young man suffered from growing up in an affluent home and never really learned that his actions have consequences. They called this condition “affluenza” and said it should be considered when handing down a sentence for his crimes. Obviously, the judge agreed.
Republican candidate for governor of Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott recently expressed outrage concerning that sentence issued by Republican Judge Jean Boyd.
Abbott expressed sympathy for the family members of the victims and outright sorrow for the tragedy in general. He called the decision handed down from the judge “outrageous.” He went on to say that he his office would be examining the case to see if it was possible to appeal the sentence.
Abbott was quick to point out that such a light penalty for a severe crime was not common in his state and that he would be talking with leaders from different legal offices to find the best angle for the attorney general’s office to be involved.
The District Attorney for Tarrant County, where Couch’s case was heard, said they have not been approached by anyone from Abbott’s office. They said they were also looking for what options are available but are not aware of an avenue by which to appeal the case.
Former United States Attorney Richard Roper said that he would be surprised if Boyd’s decision were overturned, or if any additional charges were brought against Couch. He said that most likely, the citizens will have to live with the sentence handed out earlier this month. He was optimistic, however, that the nationwide outrage could affect future cases.
Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who is challenging Abbott in the race for Governor of Texas, issued a statement saying the decision from Judge Boyd was a “disgrace.”
Davis, who made these remarks after an event to kick off the opening of her campaign offices, said she didn’t know what could be done now that the trial is over and the sentence has been issued. She did go on to say, however, that state lawmakers needed to look at judicial reform and what adjustments could be made to keep such an event from reoccurring.
Judge Boyd has undergone major scrutiny in the last week. Those who criticize her have reminded the public of a ruling made in 2012 involving a teenage African-American male. The young man’s unprovoked assault of a 40 year old stranger ultimately was ruled a homicide. Mark Gregory, 40, was punched by the boy and knocked off balance, suffering injuries when falling to the pavement. He died two days later. Judge Boyd sentenced the teen to ten years in a juvenile correction center.
The race for Governor of Texas will be the first time in several years that neither candidate is incumbent. Longtime Governor Rick Perry has decided to step down at the end of his term.
By Rick Hope