I don’t know about all of you, but 2020 seems to have been nine years long already. I have been busy and sometimes when I am busy that means other people are going through rough times.
Sometimes those people show up in stories I write and then in the comments that people leave on those stories. That has been the case lately for Grayson County Judge Bill Magers. Magers, as almost everyone locally now knows, was arrested a week ago on a charge of Driving While Intoxicated 2nd. He was jailed, made bond and has now said he is attending a rehab program locally that allows him to continue to deal with his duties as judge and try to handle his problem with alcohol.
As one might imagine, people have had a lot to say about that situation on social media. I have been reading some of those posts and I am amazed to find that while people are very willing to talk about what should happen to Magers, some of them apparently have no idea what he does for a living.
In Texas, a county judge does not sentence anyone to prison for anything, let alone drinking and driving. In some smaller counties, county judges might hear misdemeanor cases, but Magers does not. So it is impossible for all of the people he has sentenced to prison for drinking and driving to appeal those sentences because there are no such people.
The county judge in Texas is largely akin to a city manager. He works with the county commissioners to set a budget for the county and he oversees some things like building maintenance. He also serves as the head of the county’s emergency management team and rules over some juvenile and probate matters. In the juvenile cases, he simply decides whether or not a juvenile maybe released to his or her parents or must be detained. He has nothing to do with deciding if the juvenile is guilty or not. He can perform marriages. He has the same power over his own employees as any other elected county official. He is just one vote on the county commissioners court.
I don’t know what will become of the charge that Magers faces. I hope he gets the help he needs to deal with his dependence on alcohol and that he is treated as fairly by the judicial system as we would all like to be in his place.
But I would like to point out that he has been charged with a crime and has not, as yet, been adjudicated in any way in that case. It is true that he has some previous charges with regard to alcohol use, but some of them are very old. Just how much those charges will weigh in what happens to him with this charge is up to greater minds than mine.
Make no mistake, I am not condoning drinking and driving. He was lucky no one was hurt. He is taking steps to correct his behavior. Are they the same steps everyone would take and is he taking them in the same way everyone would? Probably not. Most of us can’t, on any given day in our lives, make everyone happy all at once. I don’t see why being elected to a public office means Magers should be required to be able to do so.
Either way, we are watching. Nothing is going to get swept under the rug if we can help it. The public will be told about the resolution of the case as soon as we hear of it. I can’t predict what that outcome will be, but I can predict that some people will not care, others will be just fine with it and some will be unhappy no matter what the resolution is.