A real outrage: Texas justice

Monday, April 24, 2006 at 03:14 PM

This Sunday's Denton, Texas Record Chronicle published a description of the kind of miscarriage of justice that used to boil enough public blood for changes to quickly ensue.

When Tyrone Brown was 17, he was part of a robbery which netted the robbers $2, and involved no physical injuries.  After pleading guilty to aggravated robbery, Brown was put on 10 years of probation.  While on probation he got caught having smoked marijuana one time. Dallas judge Keith Dean revoked Brown's probation and sentenced him to life in prison.  It's been 16 years, and several self-described suicide attempts later, and Brown still sits in prison.

John Alexander "Alex" Wood pleaded guilty to murder for shooting an unarmed prostitute in the back.  He also got 10 years of probation.  While on probation, Wood, described as "well connected," repeatedly failed drug tests, and was arrested for cocaine possession while driving a congressman's car.  That arrest was not prosecuted, and neither the arrest nor the failed drug tests were deemed sufficient by Judge Dean to warrant revoking Wood's probation.

In fact, last year Judge Dean lifted most of the usual conditions of probation from Wood. Wood no longer has to submit to drug tests, refrain from owning a gun, or even meet with a probation officer; all he has to do now is obey the law and mail the court a postcard once a year that gives his current address.

The newspaper story states that:

Judge Dean, a widely respected 20-year veteran of the Dallas criminal bench, said he wouldn't discuss the two cases because he might have to rule on them again someday. In general, he said, he tries to evaluate "the potential danger to the community" when someone violates probation "and what, in the long run, is going to be in the best interest of the community and the person themselves."

The judge gave Mr. Wood his special privileges without receiving a formal request, court records show.


Probation records show that Mr. Wood failed five drug tests, but public court files mention only two. It's unclear why there is a discrepancy or which records Judge Dean reviewed.

Letting a killer stay free after several failed drug tests is "unheard of with this judge," former probation officer Don Ford said. And "life in prison for smoking a joint - that's harsh in any case."

That Texas justice is one severe Bitch, wouldn't you say?  I wonder whether Tom DeLay rubbed off on politics and judges in Texas, or if DeLay was just the perfect culmination of a system so corrupt that it was simply a matter of time before DeLay and his ilk reached seats of power.

What I don't wonder about is the likelihood that this story of blatant injustice will, in fact, boil the blood of the public.  It won't.  It can't.  There are no gays, no abortions, no one named Clinton, no Arabs, no Muslims, no pedophiles, no claims of liberals abridging the freedom of speech of those lovable conservatives, and no hint of a proposal to increase taxes or fund a welfare program.  And those are now the only causes of outrage recognized in 21st Century America.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Bill O'Reilly will take his mania for justice for the common man and beat his audience senseless until they demand the resignation of the Texas judge.  Yup.  There's always that possibility.