Up the academy
I am shocked and dismayed about the horrific attack against Marine Military Academy Cadet Gabriel Cortez ["The few, the proud, the battered," December 25]. The perpetrators of this cowardly and criminal act need to be brought to the most severe justice. However, I am more shocked about the fallout stemming from this terrible incident by the media wanting to capitalize on supermarket tabloid sensationalism and paranoia. Like articles in most tabloids, Ann Zimmerman's contains a lot of interesting soap-opera text, seasoned with a few choice facts, smothered with innuendo from "anonymous" sources (unnamed former cadets and staff), and topped with what I consider just plain poor journalism.

Comparisons between New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell and the Marine Military Academy are of the "apples and oranges" variety. New Mexico Military Institute has "twice MMA's enrollment" as you reported, but NMMI is a secondary school and a junior college (and they admit females). The disparity of service academy appointments (120 NMMI vs. five or six MMA) is because many high school graduates (called "post-graduates") are sent by the service academies to NMMI for a year of college prior to induction. MMA does get a few "post-graduates," but most opt for a year of college (at NMMI and several other military junior colleges) instead of an extra year of high school at MMA. (FYI: Roger Staubach attended NMMI a year before he attended the Naval Academy. He played freshman football at NMMI; after winning the Heisman his junior year, he could not play his senior year at Navy because he used one year of eligibility at NMMI.)

The reference to "in the early 1990s, increasing enrollment from 350 to more than 500 students, achieved in part by allowing eighth-graders into the school for the first time" is simply inaccurate. Eighth-graders (and seventh-graders) were first admitted to MMA in August 1968 in a separate "Lower School." I know: I was in the first group of eighth-graders admitted. In 1968, we didn't have air conditioning in the barracks; the plebe system was nine tough weeks, and the cadets ran everything! Only one drill instructor was on campus at night--that's all they needed. I graduated in 1972 with a full scholarship to college (as did most of my class). Today, I am retired from the Reserves after 20 years; I have earned two doctorates and serve on the faculties of three universities.

I owe a lot to the Marine Military Academy. My DIs were tough veterans of WWII and Korea who fought and bled for this country and understood sacrifice and courage. The values instilled in me by the drill instructors and staff define my character today. There may be some problems at MMA today, and the Cortez incident is a most regrettable chapter in an otherwise honorable history. However, I am confident that the integrity and principles of the Marine Corps will bring forth the final vindication for MMA.

Kuni Michael Beasley
MMA '72

A judge's resume
My court, the 292nd Criminal District Court, was first for criminal judges in total dispositions over the last court term and in the top half of all courts in total dispositions and jury trials over the last fiscal year. These figures are according to Dallas County statistics ["Courthouse coup," November 27].

Over the past seven years, I have served as dean of our state judiciary's continuing educational program. Judicial education is mandated by statute, and my duties include teaching, writing curriculum, and recruiting faculty for training the trial and appellate judges of this state. Often when my day's docket is cleared, I come home to work on my computer, do research, and make telephone calls in connection with my duties as dean. During my stewardship, our state judicial training has become one of the very best programs in the nation.

It is a conservative estimate that I spend 60-plus hours per week on statutorily mandated judicial duties. I have not taken a vacation for the past several years. I choose to spend my time working to improve our justice system.

The highest honor Texas trial and appellate judges can pay to one of their own is to elect him or her to lead our professional organization. Over the past year, I served as chair of the State Bar Judicial Section. In that capacity, I coordinated our legislative efforts supporting the Supreme Court Task Force of Judicial Efficiency's recommendations. As a result of our efforts, programs developed under my direction have sensitized judges to the unique problems inherent in family violence and child abuse cases and have saved lives. The trial management courses have enabled judges to streamline jury trials to the benefit of jurors, victims, and witnesses. Our ethics course is the model for states throughout the nation.

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