Jean Boyd, the judge who sentenced Ethan Couch to a mere 10 years of probation after he killed four people and injured seven in a drunk driving accident, is being pressured by some critics to resign after it came to light that she sentenced a 14-year-old African American teen to prison after he landed a punch that resulted in another teen’s death.
Judge Boyd bought a psychologist’s now-infamous “affluenza” defense, in which the psychologist claimed that Couch, 16, actually had the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old and could not be held responsible for his actions because his parents had afflicted him with too much privilege and not enough judgment growing up.
“He never learned that sometimes you don’t get your way,” said G Dick Miller, psychologist for the defense, as reported by the Guardian. “He had the cars and he had the money. He had freedoms that no young man would be able to handle.”
Unfavorable criticism angled towards Judge Boyd for buying the defense — which will send Couch to a luxury male rehab center in California called Newport Academy instead of behind bars for 20 years — has only increased since her past sentencing history was made public.
Last year, Couch sentenced a 14-year-old to 10 years in prison after he jumped out of a car and punched another teen who fell and slammed his head on the pavement, resulting in his death, WFAA reported. The victim’s mother, Anita Lauterbach, said that Judge Boyd “wanted to send him to one of these special places in Arizona, but no one would take him.” Instead of rehab, he got the jail time, which Lauterbach described as “a sigh of relief.”
Now Lauterbach sees another teen responsible for even more tragedy getting off easy because of Judge Boyd.
“She’s too easy on them,” Lauterbach said. “I don’t think she needs to be sitting on that bench.”
Jamison Monroe, founder and CEO of Newport Academy in California, insists that the difference is not one of race or wealth, but in the violent aspect of the 14-year-old’s actions.
“Yes, it’s far worse consequences and a far worse outcome for sure [with Ethan Couch], but the intent was far different,” he said.
“What a lot of people don’t understand is that juvenile courts are actually created to reform, as opposed to adults criminal systems are designed to punish people,” Monroe said.
Many members of the public, however, are crying foul. A change.org petition to remove Judge Boyd from the bench has garnered nearly 8,000 signatures.