When the stakes for a community were as high as they were in ex-cop Amber Guyger's murder trial for killing an innocent man, we're rightly focused on making sure that judges fairly and professionally follow the points of law.
But if we're fortunate, we also have judges who understand that there are human beings involved in the criminal justice system--victims and defendants--who deserve whatever grace and mercy we can muster.
In our view, State District Judge Tammy Kemp exemplified both of those important traits as she presided over the trial in which jurors convicted Guyger and then sentenced her to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting Botham Jean in his own home. She mistakenly thought his apartment was hers and thought he was an intruder.
But it was Kemp's actions in the emotional moments after the trial was over that make us most proud--and for which she has been unjustly vilified. She hugged Guyger. And spoke one-on-one with her--and gave her a Bible.
For those gracious acts of humanity, she now faces an ethics complaint from the Wisconsin-based group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, accusing her of abusing her power and "proselytizing" from the bench.
We would have felt differently if Kemp's actions had occurred during the trial, but they happened afterward. There are no rules against that.
And Kemp showed that in a civil society, justice also means realizing that these cases are not just about facts of law. We can't lose sight that there are real lives and real human beings involved here.
Editorial on 10/09/2019
Print Headline: Dallas judge under fire