Fort Worth

Texas Supreme Court denies ‘affluenza’ teen’s appeal for new judge

The Texas Supreme Court denied Ethan Couch’s petition to get a new judge.
The Texas Supreme Court denied Ethan Couch’s petition to get a new judge. Star-Telegram archives

The Texas Supreme Court denied Ethan Couch’s petition for a new judge Thursday, defeating another attempt by the teen’s lawyers to get him out of jail.

Couch, 19, has been in custody since last year as a condition of his probation for killing four people in a drunken driving crash in 2013.

Last month, Couch’s attorneys Reagan Wynn and Scott Brown filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, arguing that state District Judge Wayne Salvant did not have the authority last April to send Couch to the Tarrant County Jail for 720 days.

The petition said that Couch’s case should not have been transferred to Salvant’s Criminal District Court No. 2 because it should be treated as a civil matter.

The attorneys have also argued that Salvant has a financial interest in Couch’s case because Couch could sue the judge for wrongful incarceration.

Wynn and Brown have been fighting Salvant’s ruling for almost a year. Their motion to remove Salvant from the case was denied by administrative judge in September. The 2nd Court of Appeals denied the appeal in February.

Couch first drew attention in June 2013, when he crashed his Ford F-150 pickup into several good Samaritans helping the driver of a disabled vehicle, killing four people in southern Tarrant County.

At his trial, a psychologist testified that Couch had not learned right from wrong because of his parents and his wealthy upbringing, a condition the psychologist called “affluenza.”

In December 2015, Couch skipped a probation appointment and fled to Mexico with his mother, Tonya Couch, after a video surfaced that appeared to show him partying, a violation of his probation. The Couches were captured in Puerto Vallarta several weeks later.

Tonya Couch was later indicted on charges of money laundering and hindering the apprehension of a fugitive. She is awaiting trial.

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