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Texas Judge Sued for Courtroom Paddlings

Posted Jun 6, 2008 8:31 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Texas Judge Gustavo Garza keeps two paddles in his courtroom and he gives parents the option of putting them to use on their truant children to avoid a $500 fine.

Now the parents of a child who opted for the paddling are suing the judge in an effort to oust him from the bench, reports the Brownsville Herald. A hearing was scheduled for today to determine whether a preliminary injunction should be issued to stop the punishment, the Associated Press reports.

Plaintiff Daniel Zurita said he reluctantly paddled his stepdaughter after the judge said she would be found guilty of a criminal offense and fined $500 unless he agreed to the spanking. Afterward, Zurita says in an affidavit, the judge chastised him for failing to hit the 14-year-old girl hard enough.

KRGV News Channel 5 visited Garza’s courtroom, where a reporter saw the paddles and spoke to the judge. Garza told the TV station that parents are not forced to paddle their children since they can opt to pay a fine. "My position and I'm going to tell you clearly. No one was forced. No one," he said.

Another justice of the peace, Linda Salazar, told the Herald in a later story that she offers youths who can't pay fines the option of doing community service work at the zoo. In Ohio, a judge has another unusual option: Youths can give blood to the Red Cross.

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