Judge’s Daughter Wrecks Car, Kills Boyfriend in Drunk Driving Accident . . . And Sues the Driver That She Hit.

m_image11432118fbd9388fad01536c2b0cElizabeth Shelton, the daughter of Texas district judge Pat Shelton, was arrested after she ran her car into a truck in 2007 — killing her boyfriend, Matthew McNiece. She was found to have a blood alcohol level that was three times the legal limit. She was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and sent to jail for four months and given eight years probation. (She could have received 20 years). Now out of jail, she is suing the truck driver and company for the accident.

At the time of the accident, Shelton was a 20-year-old University of St. Thomas student.

Shelton, her family and the family of the boyfriend are suing for value of the Lexus SUV that she was driving plus undetermined damages for mental anguish, pain and suffering.

The lawsuit is based on the testimony of a defense expert from her trial who believed that there was evidence that the truck swerved into Shelton’s lane — a contention refuted by the government witness. Even if true, it is hard to see how she can maintain a claim given her intoxication. Her per se negligence reduced her ability to respond to any swerving truck. In a classic contributory negligence state, she would be barred entirely. In a partial comparative negligence state, she could only recover if she was found to be less than 50 percent at fault. In a pure comparative negligence state, her negligence would be used to reduce any award. This is all assuming that the jury expects the jury of the swerve. Both sides agreed at trial that the investigation was botched. What is clear is her negligence.

Judge Shelton surprised the judge with his own attacks on a witness during the trial. First, he stated in his testimony that he “was told” that the truck driver once had an arrest warrant for a bad check. He then attacked another witness who actually helped his daughter after the crash but later supplied damaging testimony. He told the court that he thought the witness might be an illegal immigrant. The prosecutor responded with “The same man who stopped to aid your daughter, to do the right thing, you’re attacking his citizenship status? Are you kidding me?” But the good judge was undeterred, “No one is above the law,” he responded. Click here.

For the full story, click here.

18 thoughts on “Judge’s Daughter Wrecks Car, Kills Boyfriend in Drunk Driving Accident . . . And Sues the Driver That She Hit.”

  1. Jill 1, December 19, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    A fantasy: This just in–fundamentalist pastors converge on Crawford to expose gwb’s sins to their world wide congregation. Now that’s a saddleback forum I can get behind!!!

    never happen – besides, the only thing behind the saddle is the horses behind.

  2. Former Fed,
    I read it right the first time, but I don’t know what her prior record is and then I remembered that it is Texas. I wonder how many “months” she would have gotten if she had been African American? I am guessing the sentence would not have read in months!

  3. rafflaw,

    To illustrate my bias, I quickly skimmed JT’s article and I read the 4 months as 4 years instead (my alibi contributing to my misread is that the wraparound paragraph break resulted in the 4 and the ‘months’ occurring on 2 separate lines, thereby forcing my eyes to jump a word).

    Briefly, I thought, okay 4 years in jail for intoxication manslaughter is about right and then I stopped and realized that only a year or so had passed and I re-read that 4 months was the actual sentence.

  4. Former Fed,
    four months is a pretty short time. I realize she didn’t intentionally kill the person, but a blood alcohol level of 3X the legal limit is evidence of complete disregard for the law. Her father, the judge, said that noone is above the law, except maybe his daughter.

  5. She received just 4 months of incarceration for the penalty of taking another young person’s life because of her reckless behavior?

    Animal abusers sometimes get more jail time than 4 months, even if the death of a *nonhuman* animal does not occur.

    As with many tragic cases like this, there are no winners; however, I interpret the limited incarceration period as a signal to others who would drink and drive that someone’s life is only worth 4 months of penalty. That is not the correct message to send.

    This case should be about justice for Mr. McNiece and about establishing a strong deterrent to others who might consider taking a chance to drink and drive. Instead, it is about a convicted manslaughter who is attempting to shed the blame of taking another life and her judge father who is denigrating the very law with which he should be abiding by and accepting as the rule of law. He did say, “no one is above the law.”

    Of course, as parents, we can all understand her father’s need to protect his daughter, although some of people the judge himself sentenced over the years were also parents—and *all* definitely were the products of parents—so the judge should have no particular influence in this case just because he is a judge and a parent. In fact, he should know better than to employ such specious arguments to help lessen his daughter’s culpability regarding the law and any potential civil jurors’ commonsense interpretation of blame.

  6. A fantasy: This just in–fundamentalist pastors converge on Crawford to expose gwb’s sins to their world wide congregation. Now that’s a saddleback forum I can get behind!!! (And it is interesting that they go after a woman for having sex but torture and murder, eh, no problem.)

    P.S. rafflaw,

    I liked the private detective idea for the pastor. Perhaps we citizens need to pool some funds and hire a squad of private detectives to expose cheneybush!

  7. Jill,
    I think you are right. The Lord is taking up his/her mighty sword and is smiting the republicans throughout Texas. I hope the Lord saves some smiting for the number 1 sinner in Texas, George W. Bush.

  8. rafflaw,

    That was really great! I just heard a report that R’s may be in danger of losing to D’s in 2 more election cycles in TX–verily this is the judgement of the lord upon them!

  9. Ms Shelton and Judge Shelton must be cut from the same cloth as the former D.C. area judge who has been suing the dry cleaner over his pants. Despicable.

  10. Who would have guessed that this enlightening case is in Texas? I would hope that this civil suit is dismissed early on to prevent even more nonsense. Mespo, Thanks for the research. However, by my calculations, Texas is a 100% negligent state.

  11. “But the good judge was undeterred, “No one is above the law,” he responded.”


    I think he’ll realize the truth of those words after the civil jury renders its verdict. BTW Texas is a 51% comparative negligence jurisdiction. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 33.001, 33.012(a).

  12. How crazy is that?

    People are so money hungry these days.

    Let’s not forget had this minor NOT consumed alcohol, this would NOT have happended. This accident is completely and entirely her fault.

    The only people who should be suing is the parents of the dead child and they should be suing Elizabeth’s insurance company. They’re the ones who’ve suffered the most

Comments are closed.