Texas judge in teen wreck closes different case

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Associated Press

Posted on March 22, 2014 at 6:32 AM

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A Fort Worth state district judge who gave a North Texas teen probation for a deadly intoxication manslaughter wreck refused Thursday to open records in a separate juvenile murder case — or to say why.

Judge Jean Boyd came under national scrutiny after giving probation to a teen who killed four people in a drunken wreck, a case that also drew attention for a defense expert's claim that the teen suffered from a condition he called "affluenza." The teen, Ethan Couch, was given 10 years' probation and will spend an undetermined amount of time in a rehab facility.

Amid Couch's case, several North Texas media organizations petitioned Boyd to re-open proceedings in a separate case involving a 16-year-old boy who was sentenced to 26 years in prison for murder.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (http://bit.ly/1jchdCH), Boyd closed her courtroom twice, on Jan. 10 and Jan. 22, in the case after typically allowing media access to previous juvenile court hearings.

The media organizations argued Boyd needed to offer "good cause" to close her courtroom, even in a juvenile case.

Prosecutor Riley Shaw told Boyd on Friday that she could not close a hearing without first hearing evidence and offering a reason for closing the hearing.

The judge told Shaw, "I disagree."

Couch was drunk and had prescription drugs in his system when he plowed his family's Ford pickup truck into the crowd of people helping a driver whose vehicle had stalled. Four people were killed and several others were injured.

After Couch's sentence became the subject of national debate, Boyd barred the media from a hearing at which she determined the rehab facility for Couch and declined a prosecution request to sentence Couch to jail time for two related counts of intoxication assault.

She did not explain her decision to close the Couch hearing — a move opposed by prosecutors but supported by Couch's attorneys.

Boyd is not running for re-election this year.

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Information from: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, http://www.star-telegram.com

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