Texas Judge Gets Media Criticism For Chastising Jury Over DWI Acquittal


A Texas judge is getting bad publicity nationwide for accusing a jury of “jury ification” and comparing a case it handled to the acquittal of O.J. Simpson in 1995, says the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Judge Jerry Ray last month accused Tarrant County jurors of deciding “to ignore the law and your oath” by acquitting a defendant in a drunk-driving case. Presiding juror Judy Kingman of Fort Worth, an elementary school speech therapist, said: “It was horrible. He was horrible. I mean, we were absolutely chastised like children. Like we were total idiots.”

The driver was 17. A breath test showed his blood-alcohol content as 0.095, over the adult legal limit of 0.08. Kingman said jurors discounted the breath test because the defendant wasn't driving badly and did well on a field sobriety test. She said a police officer had a civilian riding along and might have been looking to make an arrest. “With the evidence given to us, he should never have been taken to the police station,” she said. Texas Lawyer magazine quoted a judge worried about how Ray's comments might affect both his future cases and the jurors', citing the Code of Judicial Conduct calling for judges to be “patient, dignified and courteous.” Salon headlined the story: “The Texas Judge Who Lost His Mind.” Slate.com nominated Ray for “Worst Judge” of the year.

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