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The First Cobos “Shining the Light” Award

Sep 25th, 2020 | Category: Lead Article

The 2020 Cobos “Shining the Light” Award

When the truth wasn’t forthcoming, Judge Cobos believed his role as justice of the peace and the statutory duty to conduct an inquest as well as a responsibility to Christopher’s mother required him to unearth all the facts about the man’s death and make sure they were known. He then reported the situation to the Texas Rangers for a formal investigation.

By failing to report a death in custody to the Attorney General’s office, a jail avoids the required criminal investigation and circumvents the intent of legislation and regulations. Moreover, by hiding information, the jail prevents a family from knowing the circumstances surrounding the death of a loved one. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards recently cited this practice of failing to record deaths in custody as being one of five serious impediments to the operation of their agency.

Texas Jail Project believes that the action of Judge Cobos embodies the transparency and accountability that is absolutely necessary to maintain the people’s trust in the government of a democracy.

Prior to his career in the judiciary, he worked in the Midland County Sheriff’s Department for a decade—as jailer, patrolman and Major Crimes Investigator. He is known for serving the criminal justice division of the Texas governors, working with Gov. Clements, Gov. Richards and Gov. Bush. But locally, he is known for his award-winning, innovative programs for teens. In 1998, Judge Cobos implemented the Justice Court Alternative Sentencing Program/Teen Leadership designed to divert juvenile offenders from the criminal justice system and reduce the teen dropout rate in Midland. In 2002, the program received the Texas Association of Counties Best Practices Innovation Award.  The program implemented by David Cobos established a teen court for juvenile offenders that continues today.


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Roxanne Nelson

Congratulations to Judge Cobos! Well deserving of this honor.