Did judge's daughter get special treatment?

March 5, 2009 9:11:24 PM PST
Elizabeth Shelton would probably like nothing more than to fade into the background. A year and a half after her conviction, she should be serving probation and performing community service. That's what the judge ordered, but as we found out, that's not what's happening.

Elizabeth Shelton was drunk on October 23, 2006, when the SUV she was driving hit a box truck, killing her boyfriend.

As a hospital nurse was drawing blood, Shelton reminded him that her dad was a "bleeping" judge. It is true Judge Pat Shelton is a juvenile judge here in Harris County, but it didn't matter to the nurse, to police, nor to the jury that convicted her of intoxication manslaughter.

Shelton was sentenced to four months in jail and eight years probation. She did the jail time and we assume is still on probation. She was also ordered to perform eight hours of community service a month for 30 months.

That shouldn't be over until February 2011, but according to an itty bitty note on her court paperwork, it was over before it ever started.

The judge, a visiting judge, from north Texas signed off on a deal that allowed Shelton to perform all her community service inside the Harris County Jail.

"I didn't know that could count as community service," said parolee LaShanda Gibson.

According to the jail, Shelton cleaned up and handed out supplies. Not exactly nice work, but not community service either.

"It's community service. We have to do it on the outside," said parolee Ryan Gillespie.

The Community Service Department told us it won't allow people to rack up community service hours while in jail.

It's supposed to be at places like the Red Cross, animal shelters, and the Solid Waste department. The jail isn't anywhere on the department's 11-page list.

"Never have I heard about it," said former Assistant District Attorney Paul Doyle.

Now a private defense attorney, Doyle prosecuted the Shelton case.

"I would've advised the judge it's not normal and not acceptable and it wouldn't have happened," said Doyle.

So how did it happen?

"My memory is that I signed off on it as something usual there in Houston," said Judge Richard Mays, the visiting judge.

He told us he asked if it was OK and someone, he doesn't remember who, said it was normal in Harris County.

Well, it isn't.

"That's not what I was told, I can tell you," said Judge Mays.

We looked but we can't find anyone who said it was normal.

So for a young woman who happens to be the daughter of a judge, who has dodged questions of special treatment since the case started, this is yet another one.

"I didn't know that could count as community service. That's not right," said Gillespie.

The judge didn't return several calls to his office, neither did Shelton's criminal lawyer, nor did the civil lawyer.

There is nothing illegal with what happened here and since a judge signed off on the deal, it is done. There is no one suggesting the community service requirement be reexamined.

Shelton and her father are currently suing the driver of the truck she rear-ended. They allege he bears some responsibility for the accident.

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