One Texas judge is under fire after he barged in on the jury and told them to find the defendant not guilty. The judge tried to take over the jury’s deliberation process in order to make sure the jury entered a verdict of acquittal. The judge said that God told him the defendant was not guilty and told him to go tell the jury.
Gloria Romero Perez was on trial in Comal County, Texas. The charges against her related to human trafficking and the sale of a child. Allegedly, the defendant helped a relative come to the United States from Honduras. Once the relative was in the United States, the woman arranged for the child’s sale to a man.
Believing he had been sent by God, judge Jack Robison entered the jury room and told the jury that God said the defendant wasn’t guilty. He went further to instruct the jury to find Perez not guilty based on God’s opinion of the matter. It was too late for Judge Robison and the defendant. By the time the judge barged in on the jury, the jury had already reached their verdict of guilty. Jury foreman Mark House told the judge that they already had their verdict.
The jury wasn’t swayed by the judge’s revelation. They upheld their conviction. However, the judge said that he didn’t have a choice but to speak to the jury. He said God told him to speak with the jury, and he had to do what God told him to do.
Before the unusual interaction with the jury, the attorney for the defendant asked the court for a directed verdict. That means they asked the court to dismiss the charges without sending the case to the jury for deliberation. The judge refused.
If the judge had granted the motion, the case would have ended and the judge would have entered a not guilty verdict as a matter of law. However, because the judge refused to grant the motion for a directed verdict, the case went to the jury. Once a case goes to the jury, there’s no way for the judge to lawfully intervene or interfere with the jury’s deliberation process or decision. If the jury can’t reach a verdict, the judge can declare a mistrial. Otherwise, it’s up to the jury alone to decide the defendant’s innocence or guilt.
Judge Robison recused himself from sentencing in the case. The judge who is now overseeing the case refused to grant a mistrial. A state ethics committee is looking into the judge’s actions.