Comal County Judge Jack Robison has caused a considerable controversy in Texas after he told a jury to go back after it reached a guilty verdict in a sex trafficking case because God told him the defendant was innocent. There have been long debates over what a court can use as a matter of “judicial notice” but divine intervention is not one of them.
Officials quoted Robison as telling the jury “When God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it.” Robison later apologized to the jury and reported himself to the the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct after his bizarre comments at the Jan. 12, 2018 hearing. The beneficiary of his divine guidance was Gloria Romero Perez, who was charged with continuous sex trafficking and the sale or purchase of a child.
Notably, the jury rejected the divine judgment and rendered its own in still finding Romero Perez guilty and sentencing him to 25 years in prison.
Ironically, the conviction was thrown out anyway because the judge made other improper comments during the trial.
Robison later said that he was experiencing extreme stress as well as memory loss due to a medical condition and the death of a close friend. There is obviously a tragic element to this scene and a jurist who is experiencing great stress. This can present a difficult challenge for the courts. If this is a mental illness or incapacity, the first question is whether the condition can be addressed as a disability or illness. However, this does not bode well for the viability of Robison as a jurist going forward.