Sunday, October 06, 2019

Judicial Ethics Complaint Filed Over Judge's Gift of Bible To Convicted Murder Defendant

On Oct. 3, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct (full text) asking it to investigate the actions of state trial judge Tammy Kemp at the widely covered murder trial of Former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger.  The complaint states in part:
We write to raise your awareness of Judge Kemp’s actions at the close of the trial — during which she gifted a Christian bible, instructing the convicted criminal on how to read the bible and which passages to pay attention to, and witnessing to that convicted murderer. These proselytizing actions overstepped judicial authority, were inappropriate and were unconstitutional....
We understand that it was an emotional moment, particularly when the victim’s brother, Brandt Jean, publicly forgave and hugged Guyger. It is perfectly acceptable for private citizens to express their religious beliefs in court, but the rules are different for those acting in a governmental role. We, too, believe our criminal justice system needs more compassion from judges and prosecutors. But here, compassion crossed the line into coercion. And there can be few relationships more coercive than a sentencing judge in a criminal trial and a citizen accused and convicted of a crime.
FFRF issued a press release announcing the filing of the complaint.