Words from the Lamar County (Paris Texas) District Attorney’s Office

I was contacted by Allan Hubbard this morning who serves as Victim Witness Coordinator  & Media Spokesman for Lamar County (county where Paris, Texas is located) and the District Attorney's Office.  I'd heard Allan on the radio and thought about interviewing him for Dallas South, but he got to me first.  Mr. Hubbard directed me to the DA Office's website which lists what they refer to as "facts" in the case of Shaquanda Cotton.  I will post those for you to read here.  Well…….here it goes.

Important information about the Shaquanda Cotton case

FACT: This juvenile girl assaulted a teacher, who by Texas law is a public servant, in September 2005. It was witnessed first-hand by two other teachers who testified.

FACT: Before trial, the Lamar County and District Attorney's Office (prosecutors) offered a plea bargain reduction from felony to misdemeanor assault and 2 years juvenile probation, which the mother and defense attorney turned down.

FACT: The juvenile had a trial and was found adjudicated delinquent by a jury (we don't refer to juveniles as "guilty" or "not guilty" in Texas – it's "adjudicated" or "not adjudicated") in March of 2006.

FACT: After the jury adjudicated the juvenile as delinquent, the defense asked Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville to set punishment. The defense could have had a jury set punishment, but asked for the judge to decide.

FACT: This juvenile did NOT receive 7 years in prison. She was given an indeterminate sentence to the Texas Youth Commission, which means her conduct and cooperation with their behavior rehabilitation programs determines when she gets out. Minimum time to complete those programs is 9 months. She entered TYC in March 2006 and could have been out in December 2006 if she was being cooperative. But note that she never had to go to TYC in the first place: she could have gotten probation.

FACT: Texas statute under the Family Code (governing juveniles) left 2 options for the judge: 1) release the juvenile on probation back to a family member who verbally assures the judge that cooperative efforts to meet probation conditions will be met, and 2) sentence to the Texas Youth Commission. Often, parents are part of the problem and other family members step forward to offer to take the juvenile in their care and see to it probation conditions are met. NO other family members came forward and this juvenile's mother (Creola Cotton) told the judge she would not comply with conditions of probation. The judge's hands were tied by the law and he had no other choice but TYC.

FACT: School officials testified during the punishment phase that this juvenile had been a continuous discipline problem and that her mother continually defended her actions, telling her she did nothing wrong, and fought against disciplinary actions against her daughter for legitimate infractions.

FACT: The defense filed an appeal, fired the defense attorney trial attorney they hired (Wesley Newell of Dallas) and alleged ineffective assistance of counsel (saying the defense attorney didn't do his job well enough). The Court of Appeals in Texarkana ruled that the juvenile would not be released on bond pending their final appeal decision. That decision has not yet been handed down.

FACT: This juvenile would not be in TYC if her mother had agreed to cooperate with conditions of probation after the jury found her essentially guilty.

You will find these "facts" with additional comments at http://www.lamarcountyattorney.com/cotton.html

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