There Goes the Judge

Although he’s affected much change in the Texas court system during his 21-year tenure on the bench, State District Judge John Creuzot of Dallas recently announced that he’s hanging up his robe to return to private practice. The judge told reporters that his decision was almost purely financial in nature. Saying he still loves his job, but is concerned about whether he can afford to pay for his son’s upcoming college education, Judge Creuzot is set to start a criminal defense practice after exiting the bench at the end of the year.

As a true pioneer in the Texas criminal justice system, Judge Creuzot long has been a vocal proponent for rehabilitating certain prisoners rather than incarcerating them. For years, he’s presided over a DIVERT court designed to offer drug-addicted probationers a way out of the criminal justice system. Every session of the Texas Legislature, you can find him working with lawmakers and evangelizing about how our justice system benefits from effective rehabilitation efforts.

Judicial salaries aren’t the sexiest topic in the world, nor are they a cause for which large numbers of activists will hold rallies. Still, it’s unfortunate that someone with Judge Creuzot’s skills and knowledge decides to leave the bench, especially when you realize that citizens will be deprived of an experienced and highly-regarded judge simply because lawmakers won’t pay him enough to stay.

As state employees, Texas judges have endured numerous budget cuts and no pay raises for several legislative sessions. Although public service is indeed a calling, and our jurists know that their jobs are not going to make them rich, there is a real danger that failing to pay judges a reasonable wage will reach a point where it threatens the administration of justice because the judiciary will not be able to attract and keep those most suited to the bench.
 
Here’s hoping the Texas Legislature decides to open the state’s purse strings this upcoming session before we lose another jurist with the passion and wisdom of Judge Creuzot.

 

Posted: 12/6/2012 8:07:35 AM by On the Merits Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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