Legal experts are weighing in on the behavior of a Dallas, Texas judge after a former cop was convicted of shooting her unarmed neighbor in his own apartment.
Guyger, who is white, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean, an unarmed Black man who was relaxing in his own apartment when Guyger barged in.
Legal experts say Judge Tammy Kemp, who is Black, demonstrated poor judgment and inappropriate behavior when she left the bench to embrace Guyger and hand her a Bible after the guilty verdict was announced on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
According to The Washington Post, legal experts says a judge hugging a defendant and giving her a Bible was “not only rare but inappropriate.”
Kenneth Williams, a professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, told The Post: “[Kemp] has indicated an affinity or sympathy for the defendant.”
Other legal experts noted that the hug and the Bible could cause a conflict if Guyger files an appeal, which her attorneys have stated she will.
President and Director-Counsel of LDF (NAACP Legal Defense and Educational) Sherrilyn Ifill tweeted that a judge should remain impartial and unbiased in a court of law.
“A judge is not an average citizen. She is not the victim… She must, especially in a case that arouses passion and conflict like this one, stand for impartial justice. She may speak words from the bench. This is too much.”
Others noted that Judge Kemp allowed Guyger’s defense to use the Castle Doctrine defense, which is usually reserved for homeowners who stand their ground. The Castle Doctrine justifies deadly force when an intruder enters an occupied home.
Kemp also instructed the jurors to consider a “sudden passion” defense while determining Guyger’s punishment. The sudden passion defense reduced the sentencing range from 2 to 20 years.