Justice of Peace defends boy's courtroom paddling
Houston Chronicle , May 7, 2001

CONROE -- A Montgomery County Justice of the Peace said today that he ordered a boy paddled in his courtroom because it was the only way to get through to him.

"He doesn't understand any other punishment but corporal punishment," Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace John Kleimann said. "That was the way I was raised and you were raised and we were much better kids than the current generation."

The child, whose exact age was not available this morning, was swatted three times while bent over a courtroom table.

"In our view it would be highly inappropriate for a judicial officer to order a child spanked," said Eli Bell, counsel for Therapeutic Family Life in Austin, which had placed the boy in the foster home.

"Most of the children we care for have emotional issues anyway," Bell said. "Certainly they need to be held accountable for their actions, but there are many other ways to hold children accountable."

Kleimann said the foster parent wanted to paddle the child, but could not do so without consulting the placement agency and getting a court order.

"I said, `You have an order at this time,'" Kleimann said.

"He was using profanity real bad," the judge said about the child. "I said what he needs is corporal punishment."

The child had been sent to Kleimann's court because he was a disciplinary problem in the Willis school district.

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