Texas Judge Publicly Denounces Jurors For Acquitting Defendant And Acting Like The O.J. Simpson Jury

250px-Jury_box_croppedWe previously discussed an Ohio judge who chastised a jury and threatened a defendant that his acquittal would not end the matter for her. Now Texas visiting Judge Jerry Ray has joined the ranks of judges who express their anger at juries for not ruling as they expect. Ray told a jury that it violated its oath and acted like the jury in the O.J. Simpson case.

The jurors in Tarrant County found David Tran, 17, not guilty of drunken driving despite a blood alcohol level of .095 — above the legal limit of .08. Faced with such a small level above the line, the jury had asked the judge if it could ignore the reading of the BAL device. They apparently did just that and Ray was enraged.

He first told Tran, “You got lucky. You absolutely are legally guilty of this offense.” He told the jurors:

I’ve been at this such a long time I know better than to get angry. But you just decided to ignore the law and your oath, and you know you did. The note that you sent out says, “Can we ignore the Intoxilyzer.” And you have the definitions of intoxication. And they were certainly—At least that one was very plain in this case and up on the board for you to see. And for whatever reasons, you chose to ignore that part of the evidence. And you have the right to do that. It’s called jury nullification. It’s when a jury decides to ignore the law or ignore the evidence. And they just want a certain outcome, and they maneuver until they get there. Perfect example, the O.J. Simpson trial. He clearly committed murder, and the jury didn’t want to convict him, so they found a way to—to render a not guilty verdict. So it happens. I’ve been around over 40 years in this profession, tried an awful lot of cases as a defense lawyer, as a prosecutor, and as a judge, and it happens. But this ranks among there as one of the most bizarre verdicts that I’ve seen. Thank you for your service, and you are excused.

It was an entirely inappropriate and unprofessional response from the judge. The judge was not just publicly flogging the jury for ruling for a defendant but he was making a public record that, despite his acquittal, Tran was guilty. In my view, such outbursts should be punished as a violation of judicial ethics. Here are a couple grounds under the Texas judicial Ethics code:

Upholding the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary

An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of conduct, and should personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary is preserved.The provisions of this Code are to be construed and applied to further that objective.

Performing the Duties of Judicial Office Impartially and Diligently

A. Judicial Duties in General. The judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all the judge’s other activities. Judicial duties include all the duties of the judge’s office prescribed by law.In the performance of these duties, the following standards apply:
B. Adjudicative Responsibilities.
. . .
(4) A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and should require similar conduct of lawyers, and of staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.
(5) A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice.
(6) A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, and shall not knowingly permit staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so. . . .

There was a judge in the same county a few years ago who was heavily criticized circumventing procedures to handle thousands of probation revocations. The judge would negotiate his own plea deals and if a defendant rejected the offer he would hear the case and, if the allegations were proven, order a more severe sentence. A “William Ray” (not Jerry Ray) was involved in that controversy in receiving over a million dollars from the judge, who he also worked for in the judge’s campaigns. It appears to be a different individual but the county seems to have a rather curious culture for judicial officers.

51 thoughts on “Texas Judge Publicly Denounces Jurors For Acquitting Defendant And Acting Like The O.J. Simpson Jury”

  1. Gene…. Have you ever had a motorcycle cop stand up while riding so they could look inside you truck…..

  2. Maybe the jury was made up of a bunch of alcoholics. I mean, a jury of your peers, right?

  3. this is no laughing matter but am watching a old western and read petes post and fell clean out my chair laughing…

    im astounded by the whole story and the fact that the judge had no idea he was admonishing a youngman who is now 21. and he just lit into him. something is definitely wrong there

  4. “For some reason or another most of the cops in that area just happen to be white…. They even scare me…”

    That’s only because you’re paying attention, AY.

  5. Obviously their are a lot of incompetent judges, who have forgotten their Oath of Office. Judges are simply umpires, the Jury has control of the Courts.

  6. For some reason or another most of the cops in that area just happen to be white…. They even scare me…

  7. Pete,

    If I recall this young man was stopped in an area of tarrant county that has a high population of Asians…. For s

  8. translation for those of ya’ll that don’t comprende’ texican.

    “we spent a lot of time and effort railroadin’ this sumb!tch and now ya’ll think yore gonna just turn him a’loose.

  9. Tarrant County is basically Fort Worth, Arlington, and surrounding suburbs. “Visiting” judges are almost always retired or former judges assigned to sit temporarily for the regular judge of the court. They are usually from the county in question or nearby. The judge is quoted as having been around for over 40 years, so I’d say 65+ years old is a safe guess.

  10. And the judge didn’t understand that the OJ Simpson jury did its job. Evidence was planted by the cops and the DNA evidence was improperly handled in the lab and Simpson’s DNA was added by the cops. With that kind of mishandling, it puts ALL of the evidence in doubt.

  11. There is a huge difference between chopping two people’s heads off, and being slight over the one drink limit! I don’t know why people still want to live in Texas.

  12. Some questions here for some Texans: Is Tarrant County in the Ft. Worth area? What county was “visiting judge” from? How old is the gopher?

    He needs to retire and take up divorce law.

    1. Yes, Tarrant County houses Fort Worth.

      No idea where he was visiting from or how old a gopher is. 😉

  13. “Given he is 17, isn’t the standard by which he is evaluated a limit of .00?

    I thought zero tolerance was the rule of law almost everywhere on alcohol for underage drivers.”

    It is illegal in Texas for a minor to drive after consuming any alcohol. But, that is a different and less serious crime than driving under the influence, which is what this particular case was about.

  14. Why are so many of these stories about Texas or Florida? Personally I think there are too many laws and too much punishment rather than actual consideration and consequences that might benefit the community (service action).

  15. Does anyone on the blog here live in Texas? If you do, you might have reason here to complain about this judge to the State Bar and if you live in his territory perhaps follow him to his own bar and see if he imbibes. A asterdBay like this needs to be out of office and off the bench in a new York minute.

  16. Another person who thinks the black robes make them divine. Who needs a jury anyway? In fact, why don’t we just do away with the adversarial jury trial system and go back to using inquisitorial courts instead?


    The judge was out of line and certainly deserves punishment for a violation of judicial ethics.

  17. From the ABA Journal:

    The defense lawyer, Fort Worth solo Jay Caballero, told Unfair Park he was stunned by the judge’s comments. “At first I thought about whether I should object,” he said. “Then I decided, well, I’ve won, and he’s not going to make a favorable impression on the jury by doing this.”

    He said jurors told him after the verdict that they didn’t believe police officers had sufficient reason to arrest Tran.

    Ray declined to comment when contacted by the Texas Lawyer.

  18. AY, If you take a breath you will see IMPLICIT in my comment was the judge was not showing judicial temperament. I have often shown my contempt for judges that do not comport themselves w/ the respect needed for their office. That is not to say they are expected to be robots. I have seen judges disgusted w/ verdicts[justifiably] and it’s obvious by their body language. However, they compose themselves, thank the jury for their work, and move on.

    AY, if you read both of my comments I think this is pretty clear. However, “I thank you for your comment and look forward to discussing matters w/ you again,” he said judiciously.

  19. Nick if you only had a clue…. There was much controversy in this case… He was stopped on a pretexual basis…. Just because…. He was 17 at the time of the offense….. Jury’s can show compassion….. The judge was out of line….

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