Legal Verbiage Confused Jurors Sentencing Former Teacher - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/12/06-Smith County

Legal Verbiage Confused Jurors Sentencing Former Teacher

  Five years probation is all a jury gave former Brownsboro High School teacher Donald Dudley.  
  People in the town where this controversy started are also asking 'what happened?.' 
  "They give people for drinking and driving and [violating the] open container [law] more time than that you know," says J.D. Tebo whose child attends Brownsboro High.  
  "It's kind of hard for me to understand why they got it wrong," says Raymond Hood, whose children used to attend Brownsboro High. 
  Jurors unanimously found Dudley guilty of sleeping with his former student. When it came time to sentencing jurors filled out the verdict form issued by the courts. In it, jurors assessed 10 years confinement, and asked that the sentence be probated for a period of five years.
  Based on that assessment, jurors thought they were giving Dudley 10 years in prison plus five years probation. In the legal jargon of the court's form, asking for a probated sentence suspends his confinement for 10 years.  And he will only be given the 10 year sentence if he violates his probation. Bingham says the confusion could have happened to anyone.  
  "[The court form] is not the kind of thing they pick up and read everyday. The law has a lot of terms where you can't say a simple sentence, it has 'therefore,' 'here to wit.' It's complicated," says Bingham.
  Dudley's troubles are not over yet, he faces similar charges involving the same student in Henderson County. As part of Dudley's probation, he's to serve six months in jail. That term began Friday.
  District attorney Matt Bingham says neither the victim's family nor the DA's office is upset with the jurors. He says he's proud of them for coming forward to help straighten this out. 

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

Powered by Frankly