Diane Tran: Houston Judge Slams Honors Student with Jail Time (UPDATED)

Categories: Crime, Education


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Diane Tran talking about working two jobs after her parents left her.

Diane Tran, a straight-A student at Willis High School, now has a criminal record.

When she landed herself in court for missing too many days of
school, local Judge Lanny Moriarty made an example of her with a heavy-handed ruling:
24 hours in prison and a $100 fine. But of all the kids to make an
example of, singling out Diane was especially harsh.

After her parents' bitter divorce, Tran's been living on her own while working two jobs to support her younger brother. With this kind of situation outside school, no one would blame her for getting less than stellar grades, but she's managed to keep up an A average in AP classes and aims to graduate near the top of her class. According to a friend, Diane sometimes stays up till 7 in the morning doing homework after working shifts at a dry cleaners and a wedding-planning business. She was tired from getting so little sleep, and that's why she kept missing class. 

But Judge Moriarty apparently didn't feel any sympathy for her, living up to his sinister namesake from Sherlock Holmes. When asked about the case, Moriarty said, "If you let one loose, what are you supposed to do with the rest of them? Let them go?" possibly before cackling manically.

Under Texas law, schools can send students to court if they miss more than ten days of class within a six-month period, and Diane had racked up 18. In fact, she'd been to court before over school absences, where she was ordered not to skip any more classes, which she then did. But with all the extenuating circumstances, the judge could have and probably should have been lenient.

"I can understand if a child is staying out of school, running around, a bad kid, getting into trouble, taking drugs," said Mary Elliot, Diane's boss at her weekend job, "But Diane doesn't do that. All she does is work and go to school." Houston attorney Ned Barnett, who isn't associated with the case, called the decision to put Diane behind bars with hardened criminals "shocking." 

Over the past couple days, thousands of people have come out to support Diane. A Change.org petition asking the judge to take back his ruling gathered nearly 26,000 signatures, and the Louisiana Children's Education Alliance has raised nearly $100,000 for her on its Web site.

We tried to contact Diane to hear her thoughts/feelings on all of this, but she isn't accepting interview requests until Thursday after her final exams. 

Update: The charges have been dropped.


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18 comments
Anon
Anon

Clearly the judge in this case is familiar with an absence of class.

Nwvotes
Nwvotes

Diane Tran is an honor student sentenced to 24 hours in jail and a $100 fine. Do you think truant kids should face jail time and fines? Vote at Nationwidevotes.com 

Socialreform
Socialreform

This is a systemic problem. Time to take a hard look at texan laws. When a thing like this happens, it is an indicator that the social system is flawed an needs to be examined. Looks like it's time to have that discussion regarding the frail social assistance network and the use of jails as a solution to all kinds of social problems. Texas is has one of the highest rates of incarceration world wide. Prisons are over-crowded, and minorities and the poor are over-represented. Why should poor people be punished for trying to get by in life? This is one case of many.

Mboyko
Mboyko

This is a systemic problem. Time to take a hard look at texan laws. When a thing like this happens, it is an indicator that the social system is flawed an needs to be examined. Looks like it's time to have that discussion regarding the frail social assistance network and the use of jails as a solution to all kinds of social problems. Texas is has one of the highest rates of incarceration world wide. Prisons are over-crowded, and minorities and the poor are over-represented. Why should poor people be punished for trying to get by in life? This is one case of many.

Juan
Juan

She should be sent to Huntsville for a year. Skipping school should be a felony.

puckhead67
puckhead67

You know whats sad...I have a family that lives in my nieghborhood who has never , not one day, sent their kids to school. The kids cannot count as well as my son ( 6yr ),  and 2 of them are teenagers. Its really disturbing. We called CPS and the Texas law says that if a parent chooses to home school their kids, there is nothing CPS can do. And then I read this, a hard working kid gets sent to jail for missing days of school but she still maintains an "A"  average. Texas has really screwed up laws and politicians.....

H_e_x
H_e_x

Well, certain kids are punished more than others. This is just keeping in line with the awful statistics.

Starli9ht8
Starli9ht8

Can we get a petition going to give Lanny Moron the boot? He's clearly ignoring or lost sight of the oath of office he probably took when starting his reign of ignorance:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will administer justice..." 

Adam Torres
Adam Torres

Judge Moriarty gets my vote ... for "asshole of the year."

chupkar
chupkar

Aren't Texans big on the ol' "pull yourselves up by your bootstraps" theory? Well, here is a glowing example and they throw the book at her? Hypocrites.

Dwight Johnson
Dwight Johnson

A judge should be able to exercise judgement. What he has done could be accomplished more efficiently by a machine, unsupervised by a beating heart. Perhaps that is exactly what happened.

Grinch
Grinch

Lanny Moron should be his name because that's what he is, a total moron.

Red Neck
Red Neck

This is for Juan.  You are righth.  She should be sent to either MEXICO or SPAIN where you came from. And you don't belong here ......

Luckme0515
Luckme0515

 We need a new website, this time to put this "your honor" in jail for a day.  As he said "a day in jail is not death sentence after all".  He should also be fired, not just not re-elected, but fired outright for failing to exercise the minimum common sense required from all and particularly from judges.

Khalil McMillan
Khalil McMillan

As a Southern Californian, I tend to agree with chupkar.  Texas like L.A. has hard and fast rules that blow up in the face of practicality.  Texas is a good ol' boy state...Cali is is a good ol' dewd state.

H_e_x
H_e_x

You confuse "Texans" with "Republicans." That's like confusing "Californians" with "Yuppie Scum."

Ossie
Ossie

You obviously have a problem with Texans.

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