Bristol Myers

Attorney-at-Law

Criminal Law Austin, Texas

Blog

Tragedy or child endangerment?

August 18th, 2009

This is a heart-breaking story from the Austin American-Statesman. A father is being prosecuted for child endangerment after his infant son died from hyperthermia in his car.

The remainder of this father’s life will be lived as an apology to his son. What is gained by prosecuting him? Will branding this man a criminal make you a more conscientious parent? The Williamson County District Attorney seems to think so.

He’s apparently dissatisfied with the fact that the Austin Police Department took time to investigate the case before referring it for prosecution. He thinks getting Mr. Hu charged immediately would “send a message” about child safety.

Do we really need parenting tips from the Wilco DA? And is it fair that his grand message comes at the price of imperiling this poor father’s freedom?

At some point every one of us has been just as culpable as Mr. Hu. Parenting is no easy task, and the risk of harm is everywhere. A baby gate left unlatched at the top of the stairs while hauling down a load of laundry, an electric socket without an outlet cap, visiting the un-baby-proofed home of a friend or relative–all it takes is a split second for the worst to happen.

Our law says the job of Texas prosecutors is to seek justice, not convictions. Justice in this case should be tempered with mercy, and this father should be left to grieve in peace.

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