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Judge tells jury God wants them to find sex trafficking suspect not guilty

A Texas judge was officially disciplined for instructing a jury to continue deliberating as God told him that the defendant—accused of sex trafficking—was innocent.

The San Antonio Express-News reported that the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a public warning to Comal County Judge Jack Robison for a January 12, 2018, outburst which resulted in 18 complaints. Robison reportedly made the comments after the jury informed him that they reached a guilty verdict against Gloria Romero Perez, who was accused of continuous sex trafficking and the sale or purchase of a child.

The presiding judge told the jury that convicting Perez would be an affront to justice and requested they continue deliberating. CNN reported that he also said he’d been praying and God told him of the defendant’s innocence.

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“The judge later apologized to the jury, and said something to the effect of, ‘When God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,'” officials wrote, according to the Express-News.

The jury ultimately convicted Perez and she was sentenced to 25 years. However, the newspaper reported that a judge called a mistrial in October, finding that Robison’s instructions weren’t in compliance with the law and accusing him of making bias comments throughout the trial. Court documents obtained by the news outlet indicated that Perez is awaiting trial.

Robison testified before the state Commission last month and presented documentation from medical professionals stating he wasn’t suffering from a mental illness. Doctors had determined the judge was caused by delirium, a “temporary, episodic medical condition” and that his “fitness” isn’t compromised, CNN reported, citing court papers.

The judge also self-reported his actions to the agency a week after the incident. At the time, he claimed he was suffering from memory loss and couldn’t explain why he disrupted court proceeding or tried to sway the jury’s ruling. He asserted that ongoing medical treatment and the death of a close friend was causing him extreme stress.

The Commission declined to issue a public sanction Robison or suspend him. The Austin American-Statesman noted that Robison received a private reprimand in 2011 for failing to jail a man who confronted him in a courthouse about a child custody ruling involving his granddaughter.

 

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[Featured image: Gloria Perez/Comal County Sheriff’s Office]