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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Teaching reality

Now, this is a good judge:

BELEN, N.M. - Marlene Chavez stood before a hushed courtroom, acknowledging the consequences of her second drunken-driving offense. Among the spectators were hundreds of teenagers who hung on her every word.

"I lost a lot of things," said Chavez, 43. "I left my vehicle in the impound so that I don't do drinking and driving after that. And I lost my house. I lost my kids to their father so that they can go stay with him because I had nowhere to go."

Chavez had already pleaded guilty. Now a judge gave her four days in jail and a $500 fine. But her sentence came with an additional indignity: It happened in a high school auditorium, where 400 students stared as she lifted one leg, then the other, to let jailers shackle her feet. Guards also wrapped a chain around her waist and handcuffed her.

When the hearing ended, she was escorted out of Belen High School, about 30 miles south of Albuquerque, and locked up.

Magistrate Daniel Hawkes brought his courtroom to the school in hopes that the proceedings will show students the dangers of alcohol, especially in the weeks leading up to the prom and graduation.

As the story indicates, even students who went into the hearing thinking it was just a stunt found something to think about. This is "Scared Straight" -- the program that gives students a peek into jails and prisons -- taken to the next step. Take the trials into the schools. What about it, Allen County judges?


Bob G.
Tue, 04/01/2008 - 10:06am

Much better than Court TV...and it has the novelty of never having been tried HERE...(yet).

Bring it on!

(tell Judge Kenny HE can "lead the charge")