Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot is taking action against gag orders after being hit with one by Judge Tammy Kemp over comments he made on television before Amber Guyger’s murder trial in September. According to the Dallas News, Creuzot said that his office will now challenge gag orders issued by Dallas judges.
During a news conference on Wednesday at the Frank Crowley Courts Building, Creuzot said, “From this day forward, if any judge on his or her own issues a gag order, there’s about a 99.9% chance that we’re going to do everything in our legal power to get it taken down.”
He added, “And if that means we have to go through the Court of Appeals, or to the Supreme Court of Texas, or to the Court of Criminal Appeals to do so, we’ll do so.”
Creuzot is holding his staff accountable as well, enforcing them to get his approval prior to issuing gag orders on their own.
The comment in question that Kemp considered a violation of Creuzot’s gag order was made during an interview the night before the trial. He explained why he felt murder was the appropriate charge for Guyger, the former Dallas police officer who shot and killed Botham Jean in his own home in 2018.
Guyger is serving 10 years in prison for the Jean’s murder.
“And so this issue of manslaughter that it was manslaughter — I wrote, ‘No, this is more appropriately a murder case based on the facts as reported,’” Creuzot said. “I’ve studied what we have, and I feel comfortable going forward on it, but I don’t have any idea as to how it will end up.”
Guyger’s attorneys attempted to capitalize on Creuzot’s statement, thus requesting a mistrial in court the next day. The attorneys suggested that the interview was a violation of Kemp’s gag order. Kemp questioned the jurors to determine if anyone had seen the interview, because if anyone did it would support Guyger’s attorneys’ claims. However, no one did.
Creuzot was due to appear in court following the trial to explain why his remarks were not worthy of him being held in contempt. However, Creuzot demanded that Kemp be removed from his contempt of court case. His wish was granted.
During the news conference on Wednesday, Creuzot said that Kemp displayed unprofessional behavior and that she appeared to be biased.
Kemp’s behavior has been questionable in the past as she famously gave Guyger a hug and a Bible after sentencing her to only 10 years in prison for taking someone’s life.
Court records reveal both parties filed a motion to dismiss the contempt charge in December. Court filings also revealed that while Guyger’s attorneys felt Creuzot should have declined to comment on the case, he did not violate the gag order because it did not prohibit public statements, only comments that would likely affect the case.