Friday, January 30, 2009

Welcome to Theatre of the Absurd

Should you be placed on probation for a violent crime such as rape, murder, burglary or any other crime in which a gun was displayed, feel free to move out of Texas, if the state you are planning on moving to doesn't object to your impending citizenship. But, if you're on probation for driving while intoxicated -- slow down, put your life on hold and be prepared to stay in Texas until your time is up.

At least that's what judges up in Smith County (Tyler) think the law is. It seems, according to this column from Rick Casey of The Houston Chronicle, that once upon a time an assistant state attorney general read some tea leaves and decided that an interstate compact signed by all the states in the U.S., allowed local judges to be sued should one of their non-violent probationers get into trouble in another state.

Back in July the interstate commission sent out a letter telling local judges they had nothing to worry about - and that seemed to resolve the issue throughout Texas, with the exception of that outpost in East Texas known as Smith County. On Monday, the Attorney General, Greg Abbott, is expected to issue an opinion assuring judges in Smith County that it's okay to allow people to get on with their lives if they're on probation for a non-violent misdemeanor.

It's just another performance at the Theatre of the Absurd for those folks who think driving while intoxicated is the most heinous crime known to civilized man. It almost makes the Harris County D.A.'s Office stance of never reducing a DWI seem reasonable by comparison.


Joni Mueller said...

Well, sometimes DWI can be a heinous crime. Think of the number of people (and some very recently, as I recall) who were killed due to a drunk driver. (Sadly, the drunk driver is seldom killed, but instead is spared, presumably to live out the rest of his miserable life wracked with guilt.)

I'm not a teetotaler, or abstentionist, but people who cannot hold their liquor should simply not get behind the wheel of a two ton killing machine, period, full stop.

Now if the Texas justice system would apply this logic to other crimes (such as murder, rape, etc.), I'd be all for that.

Singling out DWI is wrong, but trying to pretend it isn't bad is dangerous too.

Just my two for the day.

Paul B. Kennedy said...


The true irony is that, according to the AG's office, there was no problem if a judge allowed a person on probation for intoxication manslaughter, or for a felony DWI, to leave the state. Liability only attached to non-violent misdemeanors.