Diane Tran's Judge Offers a Defense, Sorta

The judge who put an honors student behind bars for missing school has issued a statement in hopes of easing the international backlash against him. (Good luck with that, judge.)

Montgomery County Judge Lanny Moriarty became the latest Texas judge to earn Internet scorn (remember daughter-whipping Judge William Adams?) when he ordered high-school junior Diane Tran to serve a day behind bars for missing too many school days.

Tran's parents recently divorced, and she is working two jobs to support a younger brother while getting A's in AP classes at Willis High.

She also was left with a contempt of court charge on her record, but Moriarty eventually agreed to drop it.

The judge has issued a statement in which he refuses to discuss the details of the Tran case but says he will continue to fight truancy, because apparently people were demanding that he stop doing that.

The statement:

Since I was elected Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace in 2003, I have remained focused on serving the public to the best of my ability, listening to each case before me with an open mind and making an informed, just, and legal decision.

As a father and someone with over three decades experience in law enforcement, I came into this office with not only a love for young people, but an acute awareness of the dangers they face in society and a genuine determination to provide whatever guidance or assistance might be necessary to guide them on the path toward a successful future.

While I will not address the specifics of Ms. Tran's case, I will say that my intent is and has always been to make sure the students in my precinct take full advantage of their opportunity to earn a high school diploma. According to state law, regardless of how high a student's grades may be, if they have too many unexcused absences they will not receive credit for their classes. When a student who has already been to court and been court ordered to attend school each day continues to have unexcused absences, additional steps must be taken to enforce the law that is meant to ensure they complete their high school education.

I want the best quality of life possible for all residents of Precinct 1, and I want our children to have the brightest futures they are capable of achieving. I will continue to hold students, and sometimes parents, accountable for unexcused absences as we work to reduce truancy, lower the dropout rate, and instill in tomorrow's leaders the belief that rules and laws must be followed by all for society to properly function.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly