DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A retired visiting judge has removed Dallas County Judge Tammy Kemp from a contempt case she initiated against Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot.
The retired judge, Robert Brotherton of Wichita Falls, also rejected Judge Kemp’s order that prevented the DA’s office from representing Creuzot.
Kemp accused Creuzot, a former Dallas County judge himself, of violating her gag order after he discussed the case involving Amber Guyger, a fired Dallas Police officer who was about to stand trial for murdering Botham Jean.
On the first day of trial, Kemp became visibly upset after Guyger’s defense attorneys asked her for a mistrial, claiming Creuzot violated her gag order.
Kemp denied the motion but took a recess to watch the interview and ask jurors to see if they had seen the interview.
During the recusal hearing Friday the lead Dallas County prosecutor, Jason Hermus, testified via Skype about a meeting in Judge Kemp’s chambers with Guyger’s defense lawyers a short time later.
Hermus said that Kemp believed Creuzot intentionally violated her order.
Hermus said, “I suggested that it may have been inadvertent if there was a violation, yes.”
Creuzot’s attorney Brian Wice asked Hermus what, if anything Kemp said in response.
Hermus answered, “She denied it. I don’t believe she accepted that. She told me to stop defending my boss.”
One of Guyger’s defense attorneys, Toby Shook, who was subpoenaed to testify, backed up what Hermus said about that and regarding a statement Kemp made that seemed to criticize one of the DA’s policies.
Shook said, “That citizens would not obey or follow the law I think she said. But she didn’t name a specific program.”
Earlier this year, the DA’s policy on how he’d prosecute certain theft cases generated controversy.
Creuzot’s attorney, argued Judge Kemp was biased against Creuzot and in court papers said her gag order was unconstitutional.
Brotherton, the retired judge agreed with Creuzot’s attorney.
“I will grant the motion to recuse Judge Kemp.”
Following the hearing, Creuzot’s attorney told reporters he felt, “Gratified, relieved, not surprised.”
Wice said Kemp’s reactions and comments showed her bias against his client.
“When the business of judging becomes personal, our judicial heritage is such… that the judge needs to walk away.”
Judge Kemp declined to comment about Wice’s remarks and the her removal from the DA’s contempt case.
Wice said the regional administrative judge will now have to select a judge to preside over the contempt hearing against Creuzot.
Wice said he is confident Creuzot will prevail.
For his part, Creuzot attended Friday’s hearing but didn’t comment afterwards.