Judge Throws Sibling-Supporting Honor Student in Jail for Missing School, Says He Didn't Want to Appear 'Soft'

A Texas honor student who works both part-time and full-time jobs to support her two siblings was ordered to spend 24 hours in jail and pay a $100 fine after she missed a few days of school.

Willis High School junior Diane Tran was warned last month not to cut anymore classes, but after she skipped school again this month, Tran was summoned to appear in court and arrested upon arrival.

Tran says her parents divorced without warning and moved out of state, leaving her behind in Willis. Her plate already brimming with advanced placement and dual-credit college-level courses, Tran has been forced to work full-time at a dry cleaners and part-time at a wedding venue to help support a brother in college and a baby sister living with relatives in Houston.

Her friends say she is often so exhausted, she simply can't wake up in time for school. "She goes from job to job, from school she stays up ‘til 7 o'clock in the morning," said classmate Devin Hill.

But her personal problems did not concern the fittingly surnamed Judge Lanny Moriarty, who readily admitted to making an example of Tran. "If you let one (truant student) run loose, what are you gonna' do with the rest of ‘em? Let them go too?" Moriarty told local reporters. "A little stay in the jail for one night is not a death sentence."

Perhaps not, but it could still have a profound impact on Tran's future.

"Now this girl's got a record, which could hamper her later in life," said Woodlands resident David Byrne, one of many who reached out to assist the teen after her plight went public. Tran's employers, with whom she currently resides, are also setting up a fund to help out.

Judge Moriarty, who told KHOU he was concerned throwing the case out would make him appear "soft," will likely make a decision this week about striking Tran's jail time from her file.

[screengrab via KHOU]