Diane Tran seems to be a model of the resilience and determination we’d would love every 17-year-old to have. She’s a honor student at her high school, despite the fact she holds a full-time job and a part-time job in order to support an older brother in college and a younger sister who lives with relatives. After her parents divorced and both moved away, she’s taken on tremendous responsibility.
But that’s not enough for a Texas judge. Despite the fact that she’s an honor student and has circumstances that would be a nightmare for anyone, Judge Lanny Moriarty sent Diane to jail for 24 hours and fined her $100 — for the egregious sin of missing too many days at school.
The judge admitted that his tough treatment of Diane was to send a message to others.
“If you let one [truant student] run loose, what are you gonna do with the rest of ’em? Let them go too?” Moriarty said.
Diane is working more than most adults — plus remaining an honor student — because she’s trying to support an older brother who’s in school at Texas A&M and a younger sister who lives with relatives. Diane has been staying with the family that owns one of the businesses which employs her. She works at a dry cleaners full time during the week, and then she works at a wedding venue in Houston on weekends.
She said her parents divorced “out of the blue” and both of them moved away, leaving the children to fend for themselves.
Diane has had to learn many lessons early in life, and the tough ones are the ones she didn’t learn in school. She’s learned not to count on her family. She’s learned that she can’t have normal teen-age years. And now she’s learned the toughest lesson from a mean, heartless judge with no compassion or judgment.
The tough lesson to Diane and the rest of us is simple. The state owns you. The state will make your decisions for you. How dare you have your own priorities? How dare you believe you know what’s best for you?
Note: If you’d like to express your opinion to Judge Lanny Moriarty about his lack of judgment in this case, here are the contact numbers for his office. Since the judge is elected, the more pressure he feels, the more likely he is to change his ways. And the more people know about this, the less likely he is to be re-elected.