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Friday, April 3, 2009

Board Firmly Rebukes 'Paddling Judge'

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct officially rebuked Judge Gustavo Garza of Brownsville, TX, for offering parents of truant schoolchildren the option of publicly paddling their children in the courtroom instead of paying a $500 fine.  While the Commission specifically stated Judge Garza's actions "routinely facilitated and permitted the paddling of juveniles in his courtroom thereby clothing the practice with an improper judicial blessing," it added that he had failed to make other arrangements available to them, such as payment plans.

Judge Garza said he understood the Commission's findings, but pointed-out the reduction in the school district's truancy cases.  One of the cases prompting the Commission concerned a man who reluctantly paddled his 14-year old daughter because he could not afford the $500 fine.

Of course, not having kids, it's easy for me to say I don't see the problem here.  And I'm not so far removed from my own childhood that I can't imagine the sheer mortification the kids surely experienced.  But isn't that part of the reason Judge Garza thought of this in the first place?  I can certainly imagine $500 being more of a household concern than the issue of a public paddling -- I know it would have been in my house!

While Judge Garza did not say whether or not he would continue the practice, if he does, he could face fines or even removal from office.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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