DALLAS (CN) – A visiting Texas judge on Friday blocked the judge in former Dallas cop Amber Guyger’s murder trial from presiding over a contempt case against the district attorney accused of violating a gag order by giving a TV interview on the eve of trial.
Visiting Judge Robert Brotherton, who retired from Wichita County District Court in December, granted Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot’s motion to remove Judge Tammy Kemp from the case against him after hearing testimony from several prosecutors and defense attorneys from Guyger’s trial.
Guyger was convicted of murder last month for killing her downstairs neighbor, Botham Jean, with her service pistol after entering his apartment and mistaking it for her own after coming home from work
Kemp went viral on social media after she held her mouth open, closed her eyes and stood up upon learning on the first day of trial that Creuzot had allegedly violated a gag order she had in place when he granted a sit-down interview the night before to Fox-affiliate KDFW. The gag order had been in place since January.
“You mean prior to the start of this trial, the elected district attorney did an interview about this trial?” Kemp asked at the time.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus apologized, but Kemp told him to “stop apologizing for your boss.”
Kemp ultimately rejected a defense motion for a mistrial based on the interview, but only after recessing to watch the interview and to ask jurors if they had watched it.
Creuzot’s attorneys asked Brotherton to remove Kemp from his contempt case due to her “visual reaction” upon learning of the interview, which they say cast doubt on her impartiality. Creuzot claims the case against him involved Kemp’s “apparent confusion of an offense to her sensibilities with obstruction to the administration of justice.”
Ruling from the bench, Brotherton also overruled Kemp’s earlier order barring attorneys with Creuzot’s office from defending him in the contempt case. Creuzot declined to comment to reporters at the end of Friday’s hearing.
Kemp made further headlines when, moments after Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, she gave Guyger her personal Bible and prayed with her for several minutes before embracing her. A secular nonprofit has since filed a judicial ethics complaint against Kemp for that encounter, claiming she violated at least four sections of Texas’ Code of Judicial Conduct, the First Amendment and the Texas Bill of Rights. The complaint accuses Kemp of engaging in “unconstitutional proselytizing.”
Kemp’s gift came after Jean’s younger brother, Brandt Jean, 18, stunned the courtroom when he told Guyger during a victim impact statement that he forgave her. Kemp granted his request to hug his brother’s killer and the two embraced for several minutes while the judge wiped her eyes.