Friday, May 23, 2008

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

That is a prevalent expression in the law profession. Police officers are given discretion in many scenarios for a reason. Not all situations call for arrest. For example, officers find a man in a bank who appears to be pretty drunk. He lives about a block away. The officer recognizes the man from a recent news story. His daughter was disciplined by her mother (his wife) so she took a knife and stabbed her to death. With his wife dead, and his daughter in prison, obviously, this man is in pain. The officer cannot bring himself to arrest the man for public intoxication. So, the officer arranges for the man to get home (true story).

Now, Justices of the Peace get many cases where the law dictates what must occur. However, sometimes discretion is a good tool. In this case, a Fort Bend JP did not take eviction cases around Christmas time. After the new year, the cases could be filed again. Yet, a landlord wanted to make an eviction around Christmas time and was told to return after New Year. Instead he filed a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. In return, the JP got admonished. I imagine the Commission felt the same way I do and the admonishment was the lowest form of punishment they could give. However, the JP "....has instructed his staff to accept all eviction cases, no matter when they are requested." I would imagine that this would be great in his next campaign. He took a hit from the Commission for his constituents. Although officially this is punishment, there is a silver lining. Plus, his office will accept the cases, however due to "backlog" they may not be served until after the New Year. Yet still, I wish this article would have named the land lord who made the complaint.

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