The Houston Press's backpage.com classifieds section sometimes gets some odd submissions, and we were recently alerted to one.
Sent by an anonymous source using the addy firstname.lastname@example.org, the post offered "thousands of part-time and full-time openings" for a vague company called "Santa's Little Helpers." Or at least, that's the name that interested parties were supposed to put on a $5 check or money order and send to Lamar County Juvenile Judge M.C. Superville (who is not, as his name might indicate, a rapper).
Either this was the world's most idiotic judge, or someone wanted to bother the hell out of this guy. Hair Balls got on the case.
Superville told us he wasn't surprised by this weird scheme, because he's been the target of weird pranks (and death threats) since presiding over a 2006 juvenile case that gained national attention for its seemingly seething racism. (We'll get to that in a minute).
"It's an idea to impugn my character and so forth, or at a minimum, to embarrass me," Superville told us. He also said he's received some rather unwanted items mailed directly to his courthouse address.
"When I started getting all kinds of pornography in the mail," he told us, "I would call the companies and say 'Hey, you know, please stop sending this.' And they wouldn't stop sending it because they said, 'This has already been ordered...there's about three more shipments headed your way,' ....I couldn't get it to stop, basically."
Superville bristled at the accusations of racism and stated that many of his critics weren't getting the facts.
In 2006, Superville sentenced a 14-year-old African-American girl named Shaquanda Cotton to the Texas Youth Commission after a jury found her guilty of assaulting a teacher's assistant in her Paris high school. The case caught the attention of a columnist for Chicago Tribune, who accused the judge and district attorney of racism, creating a nationwide network of advocates, including the regional NAACP office, demanding Cotton's release.
These advocates pointed out two things that, on the surface, made Judge Superville, if not the entire city, look like a beacon of bigotry:
Superville was sentenced to seven years in TYC for "shoving" the teacher's aide.
Superville had previously granted probation for a 14-year-old white girl who burned down her house.
Most people would probably agree that burning down a house is a tad more serious than shoving someone. And Hair Balls still finds the disparity odd, but what's also odd is that none
of the folks crying racism appeared to dive into the arson case and troll for mitigating factors.
As for the first point, the blame might better be placed on the troubling way the Texas Family Code states how kids are sentenced to TYC. And that is this: The sentence is for "an indeterminate period of time" not to exceed TYC's age limit, which in 2006 was 21.
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So Cotton's sentence was "an indeterminate period of time" not to exceed her 21st birthday. Since she was 14 at the time of sentencing, it at least appeared on paper that she could very well spend seven years in lockup. (Also, several witnesses testified that it was considerably more than a "shove" - the 59-year-old teacher's aid fell to the ground and ultimately went to the hospital. She also testified that she had osteoporosis and scoliosis, and was in severe pain afterwards).
While Superville was extremely willing to talk, the Lamar County District Attorney's Office is no longer discussing the case.
But perhaps the most important question in all of this is: Who gets dibs on all that unwanted porn?
-- Craig Malisow