Innovative Texas judge honored for drug case reform

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on December 16, 2012 at 10:54 PM

After more than two decades of dealing with some of the justice system's toughest problems, one of North Texas' most innovative judges is retiring.

Judge John Creuzot helped alter the way drug cases are handled in Texas courts, changing hundreds of lives.

"You're making decisions about people's cases, but ultimately, their lives," he said.

Creuzot found a way to wrestle with the guts of the legal system so fewer drug offenders would end up back in prison. People like Danny Templeton, who had been an addict for a quarter of a century.

"Prison didn't help me," he said. "It was Judge Creuzot who saved me. He gave me the tools of life to save me."

The tools included probation instead of imprsionment for some offenders, coupled with relentless rehabilitation, education, a job, and meetings with the judge every week.

"Instead of focusing on putting people in the penitentiary, we now focus on the underlying reasons for crime and criminal behavior," Creuzot explained.

The judge worked with politicians to alter the sentences for repeat drug offenders. One, Chris Brooks, repaid the judge's concern with a poem:

If you're ready and your heart is true, come up to the 6th floor.

Judge Creuzot, he has a plan for you.

Last month, Dallas County Commissioners renamed a 300-bed drug and retraining facility in Wilmer the Judge John Creuzot Judicial Treatment Center.

The impact of his work goes beyond one person.

"Every time i've had to make a decision that somebody has to go to the penitentiary, I have to temper that with their family is going, too. What impact that is going to have on them," Creuzot said.

The floor of his den is stacked with the humanitarian awards he's recieved for his service; the accomplishments of a life in law, and symbols of how lives have been changed.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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