DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The judge who presided over the Amber Guyger murder trial late last month admitted Monday that she does not peruse social media, even though she herself has become a top mention on Twitter, Facebook and other sites.
“Oh, I’ve heard I’ve gone viral,” said Dallas County District Judge Tammy Kemp.
That may be an understatement.
Judge Kemp presided over one of the most-watched criminal trials in Dallas County history.
But it was the postscript of the trial, the completion of victim impact statements, that crafted yet more attention to Guyger’s trial and conviction .
Victim Jean’s brother Brandt turned to Judge Kemp, and asked if he could hug Guyger, after he stated in court he forgave her, and wished she didn’t spend time in prison.
Judge Kemp, seen wiping tears from her eyes, concluded the impact statement portion, then proceeded to personally greet and hug the Jean family, and Guyger herself.
“I said to Ms. Guyger, ‘Brandt has forgiven you, please forgive yourself’,” Kemp recounted.
The judge said Guyger not only asked for a hug, the convicted former Dallas Police officer said she had no bible. “I said, ‘I will get one for you’,” Kemp said.
Kemp’s outreach garnered support and accolades from thousands. But others criticized the physical gesture, the words of support and the providing of a bible to Guyger as inappropriate and a violation of judicial conduct.
Last Thursday, The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a letter of complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, calling Kemp’s actions “inappropriate and unprofessional.”
Judge Kemp, in her first television interview after the Guyger trial, told CBS 11 she was not representing the state in her capacity as a judge after the victim impact statement. “ I was not proselytizing. Ms. Guyger asked me for a hug. I’m sad to say she had to ask me twice. i never asked Ms Guyger to pray and I didn’t pray with her”, she said.
Kemp said she was moved by the actions of Brandt Jean, but she was not pushing her religious ideals onto Guyger.
“She (Guyger) will forever be the murderer of Botham Jean. How she carries that forward depends on how we receive her. As a Christian, I’m commanded to offer her love and compassion, just as Brandt did.”