Elizabeth Shelton, daughter of Harris County judge Pat Shelton, was recently convicted of intoxication manslaughter. Last year, she decided to get behind the wheel after heavy drinking and in the process caused the accident which caused the near decapitation of her boyfriend who was riding shotgun. What she allegedly told health care personnel who attempted to measure her blood-alcohol level (3 times the legal limit) did not endear her to the public (“My daddy is a (expletive) judge”).
Seeming how the public is typically cynical, most probably expected her to get off scot free or with just the proverbial slap on the wrist.
Usually, when a person of affluence (especially a young person perceived to be spoiled rotten) breaks the law, it is our natural instinct to want the government to throw the book at him/her. In the pursuit of justice, we are blinded to the fact that our own intentions, though well meaning, actually pervert justice. Leviticus 19:15 will suffice as an explanation.
Suffice it to say, Shelton did not get off scot free for she was sentenced to 120 days in jail and 8 years probation. While that might not satisfy some people’s desire for Ms. Shelton’s head, it looks like the sentence was somewhat fair (the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison), taking into consideration that the family of the deceased supported Ms. Shelton.
The following is a translation of columnist Orlando Gamboa’s (Rumbo) take on this unfortunate situation:
The Daughter of Judge Shelton
By Orlando Gamboa
The blond haired and seemingly timid Elizabeth Shelton has little to worry about. She killed her boyfriend, Matthew McNiece, in a traffic accident in which she had a blood alcohol level of 3 times the legal limit. Also, there were traces of marijuana.
The 20 year-old’s worries have to do with what she did on that night, which got her 8 years probation, a $10,000 fine (which will probably come out of the pockets of her father, County Judge Pat Shelton), and before Christmas will serve 120 days in jail.
This was the jury’s decision after deliberation of less than an hour.
After the sentencing, prosecutor Mac Seacrest said that the verdict carries the message “If you drink and drive, you will be found responsible.”
There will be no shortage of people who will interpret the verdict in another manner. Perhaps in their minds, they will ask themselves if a run-of-the-mill Hispanic immigrant would receive similar treatment under the same set of circumstances. If they doubt it, it does not make them cynical.
Nevertheless, it is opportune to ask if the sentence given to our hypothetical Hispanic would be more or less similar to Shelton’s, or if instead he would receive the maximum penalty 20 years in prison. Of course, without forgetting other consequences, like his eventual and almost surefire deportation. Forget about it if our hypothetical Hispanic was undocumented…
Gamboa’s reasoning is moribund. For starters, his hypothetical Hispanic immigrant is presented as legal so why would he be deported? I say he’s legal because Orlando doesn’t stipulate what would happen to an “illegal” until his last sentence (he really did end the column with an ellipsis).
What I think ironic is that Gamboa seems to want justice (or his view of it) carried out in Shelton’s case yet when it comes to enforcing immigration law, the concept of justice, well it’s not so convenient.
Had Ms. Shelton killed an immigrant (such as myself) I wonder what kind of reaction this would have elicited?