It’s unusual for a judge to seek to influence the verdict of a jury, but this appears to have happened in Texas, according to a recent report.
A state district judge in Comal County is said to have told the jury God told him to intervene and the jury should return a not guilty verdict in the trial of a woman from Buda who was accused of trafficking a teen girl for sex.
The jury was not swayed by the comments of Judge Jack Robinson. It found Gloria Romero-Perez guilty of continuous trafficking of a person. She was later sentenced to 25 years in prison. She was acquitted of a separate charge of sale or purchase of a child.
According to reports, Robinson apologized to jurors for the unexpected interruption but told them “when God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,” according to the Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels.
The media outlet reported Robinson recused himself from the sentencing phase of the trial. He was replaced by Judge Gary Steel.
Robinson, also presides in Hays and Caldwell counties. The judge is scheduled to return to the Comal County bench on Jan. 31.
The Herald-Zeitung reported Robinson’s actions lead to an investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, a body that disciplined Robinson in the past.
Seven years ago, the commission hit the judge with a private reprimand for the improper jailing of a Caldwell County grandfather, The Statesman reported. The grandfather had previously criticized Robinson for a ruling the judge made in a child custody case involving the man’s granddaughter. In the rebuke, the judge was accused of exceeding the scope of his authority and failing to comply with the law.
While a formal system of reprimands exists, the act of intervening in the deliberations of a jury is not formally addressed in Texas’ list of judicial canons, which is an ethical code for judges. The codes states judges in Texas shall “comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct would not confirm or deny whether a new complaint has been filed against Robinson.
A report by the Statesman in 2012 suggested many misdeeds of judges in Texas are not made public by the commission.
An experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney will vigorously challenge occasions when the judiciary or other legal officials act improperly.