Judge Superville expains his thoughts on verdict of 14 year old’s case in Paris Texas

More information is coming out which is one of the good thing of the attention that this story has gotten. Here is Judge Superville’s side from the Paris News. Hopefully the healing process is about to begin.

Superville: Look at all the facts

By Mary Madewell The Paris News

Published March 25, 2007

County Judge Chuck Superville says he fears for the community’s safety and is calling for the national media and other organizations to investigate the facts before drawing conclusions about the Shaquanda Cotton case.

The judge said a March 12 story in The Chicago Tribune unfairly painted the community as racist and a recent protest as well as the threat of future protests by organized groups with national media coverage could “spin this thing out of control.”

Superville said he has refrained from commenting until now because of his position as the judge in the Cotton case, but that he believes he has a higher duty as county judge to maintain order in the community.

“I call on the media and others involved to go to the public record to get the facts of the case before they rush to judgment,” Superville said Saturday.

Superville said after a three-day jury trial, which found that Cotton committed an act of juvenile delinquency — namely assault causing bodily injury against a public servant — he determined the best place for her would be Texas Youth Commission.

“If Shaquanda had been white, the outcome would have been the same,” Superville said. “My decision was based on facts and law and I am confident this was the correct decision based on the facts I was presented.”

The March 2006 case is on appeal with the Texarkana Court of Appeals. The court conducted a 10-hour hearing in August 2006 to consider a request that Cotton be released on bond.

The judge said Cotton could have been released at that time but would not speculate why the appellate court did not grant the bond. The judge said he presented the facts of the case and that attorneys for both the prosecution and for Cotton presented arguments.

Superville said he gave the 14-year old an indeterminate sentence up to seven years — her 21st birthday.

“Once I set the indeterminate sentence, Shaquanda holds the key to her jail cell,” Superville said. “It is up to the child and TYC.”

In explaining the juvenile process, Superville said after a jury makes it’s finding, the judge determines the disposition.

“I am bound by law to ask lawyers whether or not reasonable effort has been made to prevent or eliminate the need for the child to be removed from her home,” Superville said.

“I also must determine whether or not there is enough family support to assist the child in successfully completing terms and conditions of probation,” Superville said.

“Thirdly, I must determine whether or not it is in the child’s best interest to be removed from the home,” the judge said.

“Both lawyers presented evidence on those points,” Superville explained. “The county attorney put on a substantial amount of evidence that Shaquanda had been a persistent behavior problem at school and that the mother failed to cooperate at every turn.”

“I asked if there was anything that could be done that had not already been done and the repeated answer was ‘no,’” Superville said.

Superville said reports from Lamar County Juvenile Probation Department also weighed on his decision. Before a juvenile trial which could result in probation, the probation department conducts a fact-finding survey.

“The juvenile officer said the mother refused to cooperate and said he had no reason to believe the mother would cooperate if Shaquanda received probation,” Superville said.

“That theme was repeated witness after witness—that the mother made it impossible to help Shaquanda,” Superville said. “She blamed everyone except the child for misbehavior.”


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