Judge Jean Boyd gives no jail time to drunk driver who murdered four people

State District Judge Jean Boyd
State District Judge Jean Boyd

Here’s the story from CBS News.


A Texas teenager killed four people while driving drunk in June. Prosecutors pushed for a 20-year sentence, but a judge sentenced the teen to 10 years probation and no jail time.

[…]A psychologist testified for the defense that the teen was a product of something he called “affluenza.” He meant [Ethan] Couch doesn’t link bad behavior with consequences because his parents taught him that wealth buys privilege.

That psychologist cited one instance when Couch, then 15, was caught in a parked pickup with a naked 14-year-old girl who was passed out. Couch was never punished, the psychologist said. He also testified the teenager was allowed to drink at a very young age and began driving at 13.

Investigators said surveillance tape showed Couch and his friends stealing beer from a Walmart store in June.

After leaving a party, police said Couch had his pickup going nearly 70 mph in a 40 mph zone. About 400 yards down the street, he slammed into Holly and Shelby Boyles, who had stopped to help Breanna Mitchell fix a flat tire.

Youth Pastor Brian Jennings was driving by and had also stopped to help. All of them were killed. Couch was charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter and tried as a juvenile.

[…]Boyles said the verdict doesn’t give victims’ family the justice they need for closure.

“My immediate reaction is I’m back to week one,” he said. “We have accomplished nothing here. My healing process is out the window.”

You can read more about State District Judge Jean Boyd here. I can’t believe that this woman is a judge in Texas, of all places.

I was listening to Dennis Prager talk about this at lunch on Thursday, and I wanted to relay two points that came up. First, Prager noted that the judge was a woman, and that women tend to focus more on compassion and non-judgmentalism than men. Men tend to focus more on justice and moral standards. Men tend to believe that punishing evil harshly is the right thing to do because it deters future crimes. Men also tend to believe that punishing evil sends a message to the rest of society about what is wrong, which deters future crimes. What message does this judge’s sentence send to 16-year-old boys? It says “you can kill four innocent people and injure a fifth and get off Scot-free”.

Second, a caller to the show said that if the murderer is deemed not responsible because of what his parents did to him, then why are the parents not being punished for it? That’s a good question, and it prompts me to think about what real justice in the case might look like. Here is what real justice would look like, from someone who is not affected by the crime. First, disbar the judge so that she cannot practice law in Texas. Second, give the murderer the 20-year sentence sought by the prosecution. Third, confiscate every penny of the assets of the parents, and distribute it to the families of the victims. That is not lenient, but it would be restitution, which ought to be one of the functions of the law.

13 thoughts on “Judge Jean Boyd gives no jail time to drunk driver who murdered four people”

  1. I work with the wife of the pastor who was killed in this case. I can not tell you how mad everyone around here is about this. The kid had a record of being caught with alcohol and had more in his system that night than just alcohol. It all comes down to money. This kid’s family is super wealthy.


    1. I would rather believe that the judge was coerced or rewarded in some way than believe that she did this of her own free will. Law schools are incredibly liberal though.


      1. Not only did I hear Mr. Prager discussing this, but Mike Gallagher (I believe)—I heard the latter say the same thing Mr. Legler has said, that the kid was regularly in scrapes of all sorts.

        Regardless, it’s an awful story. Beyond awful, and my heart breaks for those killed. Your prescription is one I’d grimly and firmly support.


  2. There are so many things wrong with this ruling, it’s hard to know where to start. Where is justice these days?

    So the kid can’t be held responsible now because he’s never been held responsible before? So I guess next time he kills someone (and there probably will be a next time), he can’t be held responsible then either because he wasn’t held responsible now. So when do we start holding people responsible? Or do rich people not have to obey the law? Is that what this judge has ruled – that rich people are above the law? That the law only applies to ordinary people? Or that the law only applies to people who were taught by their parents to obey the law?

    Somebody needs to be held accountable for these deaths. IF this kid isn’t responsible because of his parents’ lack of training, then the parents should be going to jail and paying restitution. Of course, I think the kid should be held accountable, though his parents are no doubt partly responsible too. But you have to teach him somehow that he can’t kill people and get away with it. If his parents aren’t going to teach him that, the justice system should. Just because his parents prepared him poorly for the real world doesn’t mean the real world should make accommodations for him. The rules still apply to him, whether he was taught that or not. That’s what it means to have a just and fair law. Which we used to have. But apparently a fair law that applies to everyone equally is a thing of the past when we have judges that exempt some people.

    And, btw, just because a psychologist can put a label on a behavior doesn’t mean that it’s really a condition that prevents people from making good decisions. “Affluenza” is just a term that describes the bad behavior by rich people who think the law doesn’t apply to them. It doesn’t mean that rich people are incapable of adhering to the law, nor does it in any way excuse their behavior.


  3. I believe Judge Boyd is a poor excuse as a judge, a parent, and a human being!! To let off this spoiled brat who killed 4 PEOPLE and seriously injured another is absolutely inexcusable. It appears she buys into the wealth and privilege garbage that was presented to her by a snake oil psychologist and defense attorneys representing the defendant. She should resign immediately and go home and be made to look at the faces and pictures of the REAL VICTIMS in this case…..for the rest of her natural life. She apparently has forfeited her right to represent the hurting and those that have suffered loss at the hands of evil doers…including this kids parents!!! SHAME ON YOU!!


  4. This is a mere example of what type of “expert” opinion money can buy to extract the kind of justice Americans want and endure.

    “Affluenza” as an excuse for being unaccountable to the victims, to others that may have been in his path and his (ir)responsibility in society.

    Not buyin’ it!

    I recall working with a guy that actually put a person in a coma via drunken driving. He would go out each weekend and do the same with no remorse. Another I knew would brag about sideswiping cars on the roadway when he was drunk. He worked for the gov.; no action was ever taken. I watched a young woman die in front of my house due to a drunk driver running a stop sign (working class man that stopped for a few after work).He jumped out of his overturned vehicles and immediately started crying and apologizing. He was arrested and taken away.

    This kid and his parents should be in jail. They should pay the victims family for their loss.

    Hope the “expert” that coined the term “affluenza” is also put in a life threatening situation that makes him revamp his thesis.


  5. this is not rocket surgery. whatever happened to common sense? at 16, a person must know right from wrong. double standards are just wrong. shame on this judge. do not fret the civil suits will bleed the family dry. with any luck they will not be able to afford the vacation…i mean rehab. put his butt on a chain gang.


  6. This judge should be fired. Not sure what she is thinking, but I too believe she was paid off. An investigation should be done on this case. I feel bad for the family members who lost their loved ones…


  7. Shame on you Judge Jean Boyd – shame on you. I wonder how you would have ruled if someone you knew was involved. You are truly a disgrace……


  8. The word is that she had already decided to retire and not run for re-election. She knew what she was doing. It would be awesome if they did a probe of some kind into any possible corruption that occurred and resentence him if they find evidence of it. Please pray for that.


  9. What happened to Community Service?
    Why not take away drivers license Permanently?
    Why not give him probation for 4 lifetimes?

    You, Judge Boyd have taught this boy nothing.
    He will continue to drink and drive.
    Are you supposing he will think before he drinks again?
    Not likely.
    You are planning to retire “anyway”? And this is the legacy you leave?


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