August 20, 2014

#Affluenza strikes again, like father like son; will Grits apologize?

Frederick Couch mug shot
Normally, I like the blog Grits for Breakfast. But, when he defended District Judge Jean Boyd and her handling of Ethan Couch's DWI manslaughter case, and his "affluenza" claim, I had to disagree with him.

And now, we have more reason why.

Daddy Couch, whom the Daily Mail noted at the time, had a rap sheet and a history of thinking money could buy his way out of anything, has been arrested again, this time for impersonating a police officer.

It's looking more and more clear that the junior acorn didn't fall far from the family tree.

And, per Eric Hashimoto and others, it's arguable that Grits got his interpretation of Boyd's legal options in Ethan Couch's case wrong. It's also inarguable that Boyd seems to have either race bias, class bias or both.

Per Grits' post on this, here's how he was wrong, and hasn't admitted it:
Finally, we are living in an era of rampant overcriminalization, but the criminal justice system cannot be the solution to every tragedy or social problem. 

First, DWI manslaughter isn't "every tragedy." And, related to that, Couch's parents' history shows this wasn't an outlier.

Second, beyond Boyd's racial bias, she had a far different sentence for somebody else in similar straits a decade ago: 
Boyd sentenced Miller, a troubled teen whose mother was a drug addict and who was being raised by his grandfather, to 20 years behind bars.
Add in that Couch had a BAC more than twice that of Miller, and the problem gets worse. Miller just didn't suffer from affluenza. 

I will admit that Miller's case had negative extenuating circumstances, like it not being his first crime or arrest. But, Couch stole the beer that contributed to his intoxication, so he had negative extenuating circumstances, too. 

Grits never updated his original post to include any of these other links I mention, so I'm not holding my breath. It's just sad that a generally good blog, with a good knowledge of the Texas criminal justice system, can't admit that he apparently got this one wrong. And, had to resort to stereotypes like "media outrage machine" in making his stand.

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