Elizabeth 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.