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Friday, January 1, 2016

Most Disgraceful Judge of the Year - Jean Boyd, 'Affluenza Judge'; Update on Perry Cortese Criminal Case


My vote for worst judge of the year goes to Lucy Jean H. Boyd, the Tarrant County judge who gave 'affluenza teen' Ethan Couch probation for killing four people and maiming several others in a drunk driving incident.  You can read about it here: No jail for Ethan Couch, no justice for his many victims

From that article: Couch was 16 on June 15, when he lost control of a Ford F-350 pickup registered to his dad’s company and started a deadly chain of collisions on Burleson-Retta Road in southern Tarrant County. He would admit drunkenness after his blood alcohol tested at 0.24 percent. That’s three times the legal limit for an adult and infinity times what the law allows for a minor. He also had Valium in his system.

He managed to achieve his blissful state of wastedness by stealing beer from a Walmart before driving into two parked vehicles, killing a stranded driver, a youth minister who had stopped to assist and two other Good Samaritans who were trying to help.

Of the seven other teens jammed into Couch’s truck, four were tossed, and two remain seriously injured.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson called the crash “probably the most difficult accident scene we’ve ever had to work.”

While we're at it, let's give Couch's mom Tonya Couch the worst mother of the year award. Here are their mug shots from Mexico:

Intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony with a penalty range of 2-20 yrs, and the judge can stack the sentences, so the judge could have sentenced him to 80 yrs. on the death cases. Intoxication assault is third degree, 2-10 yrs. range, and those can be stacked. Couch was a minor at the time, but he could have been certified as an adult.

News reports stated that Couch and his friends reportedly stole two cases of beer from a store, and his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he killed the pedestrians. The judge sentenced him to probation with therapy, which he got at a cushy resort in California where the treatment included yoga, massage therapy, and equine therapy. Even that was too tough for the boy, who absconded with his mother to Mexico, after throwing a going away party. They got busted by U.S. Marshals this week in Puerto Vallarta. She also treated him to strip club outings.

The judge who gave him this slap on the wrist is one Lucy Jean H. Boyd. Before this fiasco she was a highly respected judge, judging from an online biography:

Boyd chairs the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas, and was a member of the Board of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission. She chaired the Juvenile Law Section of the State Bar of Texas from 1993 to 1994. Boyd served as President of the Fort Worth-Tarrant Count Young Lawyers Association in 1985, and as President of the Tarrant County Women Lawyer's Association from 1982–1983.
The Silver Gavel Award (also known as the ABA Silver Gavel Awards for Media and The Arts) is an annual award the American Bar Association gives to honor outstanding work by those who help improve comprehension of jurisprudence in the United States.

She apparently doesn't understand the 6th Amendment right to a public trial, and that this means what it says - a judge cannot close the courtroom to the public and press. She was chastised in a “right-to-know” decision when Texas’ 2nd District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth unanimously ruled that State District Judge Jean Boyd abused her discretion by closing her juvenile courtroom twice early this year during a murder trial.

In another case, Boyd she reluctantly sentenced a 14-year-old black boy to juvenile detention for killing someone with one, powerful punch. Anita Lauterbach, the victim’s mother, remembers Boyd pushing for rehabilitation. Much to her relief, no facility would take the offender.

Over thirty thousand persons signed an online petition to remove Boyd from the bench after the Boyd's ruling in the Couch case. She did have enough sense to read the writing on the wall and decided not to run for reelection.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/jim-witt/article3869872.html#storylink=cpy

Update on Perry Cortese Mail Fraud/Money Laundering Case

Perry Cortese, familiar to lawyers in the Kerrville area, got indicted last year in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, in a multi-defendant international wire fraud/money laundering case. The federal judge required Cortese to post a $500,000 bond. He has asked the court to modify his bond conditions, and the Government has responded in part:

"Cortese was, in many respects, Ellis’ trusted partner and consigliere in this
international criminal enterprise. Cortese used his position as an attorney to
make sure that frauds were carried out successfully and that the swindled
proceeds moved uninterrupted through a network of funnel accounts overseas,
taking his cut of the money as it passed through. Not only did Cortese establish
and use his IOLTA accounts for these purposes, he was actively involved in
obtaining money from victims and coordinating with money mules throughout the
course of the conspiracy."

The Government continues, "That Cortese is an attorney is another strike against him in this regard.
The gross abuse of his position of trust here suggests that Cortese cannot be
relied on to appear in this matter of his own accord. Rather, it is appropriate that
he face a substantial encumbrance of personal property and restrictions on his
liberty if released. Cortese was not merely a lawyer who crossed a gray line while
earnestly trying to help a client, but someone who abandoned his professional
responsibilities altogether and chose to become a dyed-in-the-wool criminal. In
this respect, his prior bona fides as an attorney cut against him. Put simply, if he
was so willing to betray his obligations as an officer of the court and a member of
the bar, then there is no reason to believe him when he says that he will appear in
this case because of his vocation. The likely loss of his license was never a
concern to him before and certainly will not be now."

"Moreover, based on specific wire transfers discussed in email
communications between members of this conspiracy, agents have conservatively
estimated that Cortese and his co-conspirators have attempted to defraud victims
out of more than $5 billion."

Here's the kicker - the Government's response says "the potential criminal exposure to Cortese
based on these loss figures, alone, amounts to a period of incarceration in the decades. If convicted and held accountable for that loss, he will likely spend the
rest of his natural life in prison. Taken together, Cortese has an impressive incentive to flee."

The Government can say just about anything it wants to in a court pleading, and
Cortese has the same right to due process as any citizen charged with a crime, including the presumption of innocence. 

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