Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Judge dismisses contempt charges against truant honor student Diane Tran


by Sherry Williams_KHOU 11 News

CONROE, Texas – A Montgomery County judge has dismissed contempt charges against a 17-year-old honor student at Willis High School.


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Diane Tran was sent to jail for a day, after missing about 18 days of school this year.
Her case gained international attention after the public learned about Tran’s situation – she said she makes all A’s, but she works two jobs to help support her siblings. Sometimes, Tran said she’s simply too exhausted to attend class.
But in Montgomery County, officials – like Judge Lanny Moriarty, who sent Tran to jail—are tough on truancy.
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The law is clear: students between the ages of 12 and 18 cannot miss more than 10 days of school in a six-month period.
Violators can be charged with truancy, a Class C misdemeanor. But students like Tran, who was previously ordered by the court not to miss any more school, can face more serious charges, like contempt of court.
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KHOU 11 News talked to Montgomery County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts, who said he’s received thank-you notes from parents and students who’ve been on the wrong side of the law with the county’s tough-love truancy policy.
Metts said if Tran had showed up in his court, he might have done the same thing Judge Moriarty did.
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Judge Moriarty

Metts said it all depends on the factors in the case.
"How many times she’s been here, what the school has done prior to her being here… If she’d been before me numerous times, she’d have probably gone to jail for three days instead of one," Metts said. "Where will you draw the line? How many breaks are enough? How many times should you skate? If you give this kid a break, you’ve gotta give them all a break."
But now, it looks like Tran will get another break. She retained the services of noted Houston attorney Brian Wice Wednesday, and hours later, she learned the charges against her were dismissed.
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Houston attorney Brian Wice Wednesday

Wice said there was a third-party fund collecting money -- purportedly for Tran -- but noted that he and his client have no control over it. He did say, however, that any money Tran does receive will be donated to someone less fortunate than she.



Group raises more than $70K for Texas honors student jailed for truancy
Source: FOX News

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WILLIS, Texas -- A Louisiana group has raised more than $70,000 for a 17-year-old Texas honors student jailed for missing school to work two jobs to support her siblings.

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Diane Tran, an 11th-grade student at Willis High School near Houston, was sent to jail for 24 hours last week by Judge Lanny Moriarty and ordered to pay a $100 fine for excessive truancy.

It's unclear how many days Tran missed, but state law reportedly permits only 10 absences in a six-month period.

Tran, who works full-time at a dry-cleaning business and part-time for a wedding planner, has been supporting her brother and sister since her parents separated and her mother moved away.

Since the girl's story went viral, hundreds of people have rallied to raise money for the teen, including one group, Louisiana Children's Education Alliance, which said Wednesday it had raised more than $70,000 for Tran.

The group, which created the website HelpDianeTran.com, has received donations from 47 states and 13 foreign countries for the girl.

"I think this story of a student who's obviously working so hard and is being taken advantage of by the system just touches your heart strings and it affects a lot of people," the group's president, Charlie Davis, said Wednesday in an interview with FOX News.

"I think Diane unfortunately is at the center of two failed systems in America -- our public education system and our judicial system," he said.

Davis said he hopes Tran uses the money for her family and for her college education.

Tran, who is considered an adult under Texas state law, was issued a summons on May 23 for truancy after she missed classes.

She was arrested in open court and ordered to spend 24 hours at the Montgomery County Jail for truancy, which is considered a misdemeanor.

The ruling came after the teenager was issued a warning by a judge last month about her absences.


Group raises more than $70G for Texas honor student jailed for truancy

Published May 30, 2012

FoxNews.com
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A Louisiana group has raised more than $70,000 for a 17-year-old Texas honor student jailed for missing too much school because she worked two jobs to support her siblings.

Diane Tran, an 11th-grade honor student at Willis High School near Houston, was sent to jail for 24 hours last week by Judge Lanny Moriarty and ordered to pay a $100 fine for excessive truancy.

It's unclear how many days Tran missed, but state law reportedly permits only 10 absences in a six-month period.

Tran, who works full-time at a dry-cleaning business and part-time for a wedding planner, has been supporting her brother and sister since her parents separated and her mother moved away.

Houston Councilman Al Hoang and others have roundly criticized the judge, saying he should have used some discretion in the honor student's case.

"I’m going to ask the judge to expunge the record," Hoang told FoxNews.com. "The truancy laws should be applied case by case, and in this case it should not be applied. I believe Judge Moriarty should have used his discretionary power to excuse her from this matter."

Since the girl's story went viral, hundreds of people have rallied to raise money for the teen, including one group, Louisiana Children's Education Alliance, which said Wednesday it had raised more than $70,000 for Tran.

The group, which created a website called HelpDianeTran.com, has received donations from 47 states and 13 foreign countries for the girl.

"I think this story of a student who's obviously working so hard and is being taken advantage of by the system just touches your heart strings and it affects a lot of people," the group's president, Charlie Davis, said Wednesday in an interview with Fox News.

"I think Diane unfortunately is at the center of two failed systems in America -- our public education system and our judicial system," he said.

Davis said he hopes Tran uses the money for her family and for her college education. "The rest of the world is on her side," he said.

Tran, who is considered an adult under Texas state law, was issued a summons on May 23 for truancy after she missed classes. She was arrested in open court and ordered to spend 24 hours at the Montgomery County Jail for truancy, which is considered a misdemeanor. The ruling came after the teenager was issued a warning by a judge last month about her absences.

Judge Moriarty told KHOU 11 News that he intended to make an example of Tran by placing her in jail.

"If you let one run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of them? Let them go, too?" Moriarty told the station.

Houston defense attorney Ned Barnett, however, called the ruling shocking and said the girl likely spent the night surrounded by "every type of criminal that exists."

"It doesn’t take much discretion to have sympathy for Miss Tran," Barnett said. "To lock her up is just outrageous."

FoxNews.com's Cristina Corbin contributed to this report.

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