Drug Courts Work — how they work and why — and why they are necessary

Drug courts and other specialty courts (mental health, veterans, etc) are effective.  Here is but one example of an actual message received from a former participant in the 33rd Judicial District Court’s Drug Court program which I created in 2005: Continue reading “Drug Courts Work — how they work and why — and why they are necessary”

Watching the end-game of one’s career

With strange pulses of feelings racing through my mind I realize that this is the end-game. Having been on the bench approaching 16 years I finally realize the fruits of my decision last year.

Republican Party (United States)

It is election day, 2012, for the State of Texas primaries. The Republican Primary will, in about 45 minutes, have chosen my successor. Of course, we won’t know that answer for perhaps another two hours beyond that.

The decision not to run again was always one of mixed feelings because I still enjoy the work. But I am doing what I said at the outset I would do, and that is to leave in this state of mind rather than waiting to become one of the grouchy displeased judges who stayed too long. Why risk having any feeling about a career like this other than “wow, that was a wonderful, privileged thing to do for my community,” why indeed?

But today it’s very real. My replacement will become known and my slow trek out of the abyss of judicial isolation will begin in earnest. It’s the end-game.

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Teens’ dreams of a future — how to foster — a public challenge

Many teenagers have no dream about their future and therefore have no life goals, and the drifting often leads to juvenile delinquency. How do we foster teens’ dreams of a future?

(rejuvenating this posting which earlier appeared on Facebook and a local forum — if reading this on Facebook, please go to the blog to comment).

Continue reading “Teens’ dreams of a future — how to foster — a public challenge”

Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That? – WSJ.com

Mohammed Alim Khan (1880–1944), the last Emir ...
Mohammed Alim Khan (1880–1944), the last Emir of Bukhara. Image via Wikipedia

All of which brings me to a question: Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we’re being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?

via Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That? – WSJ.com.

After you answer that question — and good luck with that one — tell me/us why the attire you see on both sexes of all ages no longer, in far too many instances, is appropriate to the place or occasion? Let’s take an example near and dear to my heart. (after you ponder the following, go back and read the entire article — interesting)

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away (isn’t that how all good stories are supposed to begin?) there was a judge conducting jury selection in a case somewhere in Texas. Moments after one of the prospects asked to approach the bench, the unsuspecting judge was rocked back on his heels. Well, back in his over-stuffed chair anyway.

There “it” was. Marching down the aisle between the two sections of seating, coming to share dark secrets with hiz honor, was this nattily attired person.  Nattily attired if attending a beach blanket bingo party, that is.

Resplendent in his tank-top, shorts and 88 cent shower shoes (not even the courtesy of Birckenstocks), he sauntered right down for some conversation. The conversation was short. Once the startled judge got his heart restarted, his tongue out of the back of his throat and his gizzard to pumping again, he simply said “your attire, sir, is inappropriate for court and you may be excused and will appear on another day.”

The real trouble began later when I published (yes, I was that judge) my now-infamous Court Dress Code. Clean and pressed jeans were allowed — after all, we’re (thankfully) in the “sticks.” A jacket was preferred for men, but not required. I think it was the requirement that men wear a tie that garnered the most attention. Yes, I know it was. Without any doubt.

I say “trouble” only if one considers it to be a problem to be accosted at the Horseshoe Bay “500 of your closest friends” parties by every single male who either had gotten a jury summons or feared the very prospect now that the draconian dress code was in the wind. “I’m not wearing a damn tie to your court or any other” was the frequent greeting, to which I silently pondered “how will this play in (federal) Judge Sam Sparks court?”

Not to worry. I had the solution. I just knew that a rent-a-tie business could nicely add to my eventual retirement. Not really, of course, but I did garner a nice collection contributed by guys who obviously had not cleaned out their closets since pre-1980’s. Everyone’s favorite was the “fish tie.” If you turned the tie horizontally the tip was a fish-head and for a tie-tack … you guessed it, a huge faux gold-plated fish hook.

That dress code came and went. Another took its place and has remained for many years with moderate success punctuated occasionally by some hapless soul who gets his ticket punched to return another day.

But here I have digressed. The question was, and is:  why do so many people seem clueless about attire appropriate to the occasion and place?  The court is but one place, but one would think that almost anyone knows that the courthouse, with the potential to get on a jury looming high on their horizon, requires a certain degree of decorum and solemnity. It has been suggested that dressing down is a ploy to avoid being picked. Maybe, but I don’t think so.

So answer me. Why?

When is enough, enough?

Possibly never? Or way too late? When a person has been involved in a profession, business, public service, or elected office is it possible to fall into that infamous slot similar to fish or company overstaying a welcome? Of course it is. Do we all know someone who should have hung it up sooner? You betcha. 

Avoiding that possibility was, of course, one of the reasons that I decided to retire from the active bench at the end of this term. The other reason for (semi) retirement at this point is that had I served another term I would have been almost 73 at then end of that one and that is getting a little late to start into something else. What sort of something else? Stay tuned …. And then there are the hobbies … more time needed there and with family.

Let’s be clear:  I still enjoy my work and continue to be grateful for this opportunity at public service. I cannot state my reasons and rationale any more clearly than in my recent press conference/announcement so that will be repeated here. Continue reading “When is enough, enough?”