Donna Beckett

As Interviewed by Evan Hildebrandt, March 3, 2013
"I definitely have a different attitude towards it [a child or teenage case] because I view it as a chance to educate the child on the laws, so if a child comes to court charged with shoplifting or charged with a curfew violation, then I view that as an opportunity for the child to learn what the curfew laws are, and an opportunity for the child to learn what the repercussions of a theft conviction might be."
Donna Beckett

Introductory Profile: About Donna Beckett

Donna Beckett is an Associate Judge for the Austin Municipal Court. She Represents adults and children in misdemeanor and felony cases, and represents parents and children in Child Protective Services cases. Mrs. Beckett works at Gardner Betts Juvenile Center for child and teenage court cases. She believes that all children should have a chance to learn from their mistakes when concerning the law, because they are young. Children can take classes to learn about the negative impacts brought on by graffiti in a neighbourhood, about possessing drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, and about theft. Mrs Beckett feels that adults should know about laws and consequences for breaking them, but children don’t, so they should not be judged at the same level.

Donna Beckett is about 5 feet 8 inches, with medium length brown hair. She is strict when she needs to be, but has a very humorous and boisterous attitude most of the time. Donna Beckett is from New York, attending the State University of New York College from 1978-1982, and attending the Brooklyn Law School from 1985-1988. From 1988-1995, Donna Beckett worked as an Court Attorney at the Family Court, New York County, researching the law of adoption, custody, visitation, guardianship, support, juvenile delinquency, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect. From 1994-1995, Donna Beckett worked as a Volunteer Arbitrator, conducting hearings and rendering binding decisions in minor civil disputes. From 1995-1999, Donna Beckett worked as an Attorney at the Law Office of Donna Mulcahy. From 1999 to the present, Donna Beckett works as an Associate Judge at the Austin Municipal Court.

The interview starts out with a light attitude. I ask a question about the court system and she tells me about the court system, how it works, and the process behind it. I start to get into punishment of minors for misdemeanors, theft, and murder. I ask if a child can receive capital punishment (the death penalty) and she looks it up in the penal code (the book containing all of the laws in Texas and the Federal Court). At this point the interview has taken a slightly darker turn, but lightens up when I ask about graffiti, and the punishment for younger graffiti artists versus adults. We end talking about the punishment for minors in possession of illegal drugs, legal drugs, tobacco products and alcohol. Overall, the interview has a lighter theme, and a highly educational standpoint as far as child cases go. For the court, child and teenage cases are viewed as a chance for the child to learn about law, the court, and what happens if you break the law.

Donna Beckett thinks that children should not be judged as hard because they are younger, and don’t completely understand the consequences of breaking the law. She feels that children should be punished, but not severely, and should be given an opportunity to be given a case dismiss so they can get a job later in their life without being turned away for being a criminal.