PINEHURST, Texas - The arrest of a teacher who missed jury duty to be with a student cancer survivor outraged people in Montgomery County this week. But the judge responsible for the arrest spoke to Local 2 exclusively, saying what happened was a series of errors he regrets.
Magnolia ISD teacher Margaret Young called a Montgomery County court coordinator after getting an email telling her to report on April 30 instead of the originally scheduled April 29.
According to her attorney, Greg Gaines, Young told the coordinator she had a prior engagement: A luncheon in Houston, honoring a young cancer survivor she had tutored for the last year.
But Judge Case said the cancer part wasn't fully communicated to his staff.
"Had she shown up that morning and told me all of this information, would I have released her? I don't know," said Case. "We were that desperate for jurors.
Case said two prior attempts to seat a jury in that particular case had failed, making the third attempt even more important.
Case insists he never meant for Young to go to jail. He issued a writ of attachment, ordering a deputy to pick up Young.
Case said he just wanted the deputy to bring Young to court where jury selection was underway, but by the time the writ was issued, court had already wrapped up for the day.
Still, the writ of attachment clearly states that Young should be taken into custody and then to the Montgomery County Jail.
Case said he didn't prepare the document and what happened was part of a communication breakdown.
"In my hustle and bustle of trying to get things done, I didn't read that sentence," said Case. "I saw 'writ of attachment, no bond, bring her to court' and I thought, 'that's what I want.' I regret that error."
Gaines said Case didn't follow the law, which only allows for a fine after a hearing.
"She's owed an apology. Whether he does it or not, he knows he owes her apology," said Gaines.
Case isn't apologizing.
"Certainly with the information I had at that the time, my call was the right call," said Case.
In an email obtained by Local 2, Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon told the judge he would not file contempt charges against young saying, "I believe it would be an abuse of prosecutorial discretion to proceed further."
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