A Texas judge is speaking out this week after her act of giving a Bible to a former Dallas police officer convicted of murder led to a formal complaint by a secular group.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed its complaint Thursday with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct against Judge Tammy Kemp, accusing her of “inappropriate” use of religion in her government role during the trial of Amber Guyger.
Judge Kemp provided Guyger a Bible and gave her a hug after the former police officer had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for murdering Botham Jean, a neighbor in her apartment complex who Guyger fatally shot after mistaking his apartment for her own.
“I could not refuse that woman a hug. I would not,” Judge Kemp told The Associated Press, adding she asked if she could hug Guyger. “And I don’t understand the anger. And I guess I could say if you profess religious beliefs and you are going to follow them, I would hope that they not be situational and limited to one race only.”
The judge slammed the foundation’s complaint that she was “proselytizing from the bench,” noting the trial was already over and she stepped away from her podium.
“I didn’t do that from the bench,” she said. “I came down to extend my condolences to the Jean family and to encourage Ms. Guyger because she has a lot of life to live.”
Judge Kemp said she saw “marked change” in Guyger and didn’t want her to “sink into doubt and self-pity” in prison.
“Because she still has a lot of life ahead of her following her sentence, and I would hope that she could live it purposefully,” she said.
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