Judge Jean Boyd’s court career deserves respect

District Judge Jean Boyd
District Judge Jean Boyd Special to the Star-Telegram

Jean Hudson Boyd, presiding judge of Tarrant County’s juvenile court since 1995 and an associate justice there for eight years before that, officially retires on Wednesday.

But for one recent case and the bit of attention the vacancy on her bench would have received from the small fraction of registered voters who cast ballots in judicial elections, her departure would probably be barely noticed.

That’s a shame, because 28 years of service to Tarrant County and some of its most troubled children should be noticed and appreciated.

In fact, this county in particular should notice that Boyd is leaving, because we’ve had only two presiding juvenile court judges in the modern era of that court.

Tarrant County set up its specialized juvenile court, the 323rd District Court, in 1977. It tapped Judge Scott D. Moore, at the time already a 12-year veteran judge of what had been called the Court of Domestic Relations No. 3, to lead the new court.

Moore served until he retired at the end of 1994. Jean Boyd had been elected to replace him, and she has served tirelessly ever since.

That takes dedication. And to work even a short time as judge in the difficult arena of juvenile crime, seeing children accused of everything from petty theft to brutal murder, cannot in any way be easy.

Texas calls on its juvenile court system not to punish offenders but to rehabilitate them and help them lead productive lives.

And Tarrant County voters consistently re-elected Boyd, a Republican, to that job every time she ran.

The case that drew attention to her like no other, even sparked some people to call for her removal, came a year ago when she sentenced then 16-year-old Ethan Couch to probation after his drunk-driving accident that killed four people and seriously injured two others.

Boyd sent Couch for treatment in a state-owned mental health facility in Vernon.

Whether or not you agree with what happened in that case, Judge Boyd and her years of service to Tarrant County deserve respect.