Judge Gustavo Garza defends 'spanking' policy
By Ryan Wolf, Action 4 News, June 6, 2008

Cameron County Precinct 6 Justice of the Peace Gustavo "Gus" Garza described for Action 4 News how the paddling in his courtroom takes place.

He said the student receiving the discipline is bent over 90 degrees with their forearms on a chair and hit five times by their parent with a wooden paddle.

The judge admits it's corporal punishment for a Class C misdemeanor like truancy.

But parents choose the option he says over a fine 99 percent of the time.

"This is your option mom, what do you want to do," Garza asked. "Do you want to pay for your child or do you want to discipline for yourself?”

A Los Fresnos man reportedly took the discipline for his 14-year old stepdaughter back in April 2007.

He has now filed suit against the judge.

Court documents alleged “Garza directed Daniel Zurita to repeatedly strike his stepdaughter on the buttocks with a large, heavy wooden paddle in open court and in the presence of other adults and juveniles.”

Brownsville attorney Mark Sossi represents the plaintiffs.

"Parents have the right to raise their child as they see fit and a judge does not have the right to sentence a person to corporal punishment,” said Sossi.

He adds the judge's actions prey on working families with little money like his clients ultimately intruding on family matters.

The judge estimates nearly 500 people, parents and guardians, have chosen the paddle over paying.

He even says some students have returned to say their day in court led to positive behavior changes.

The judge showed Action 4 News several copies of high school diplomas given to him by past students who were paddled.

But whether re-empowering parents as he puts it is within his legal parameters will be in the "hands" of another judge to decide.


Return to:
The Newsroom
Front Page