Just before former Dallas Police Department Officer Amber Guyger's trial began in earnest last fall, there was a moment when it seemed like the whole thing could go off the rails. As Guyger, the media and the public prepared for opening statements, her defense team told Dallas County District Judge Tammy Kemp that they believed John Creuzot, the Dallas County district attorney, had violated Kemp's gag order in the case during a TV interview aired the night before the trial began.
Kemp became visibly angry when she learned about the interview but denied the defense's motion to relocate the trial after none of the jurors in the case said they'd seen the video. Kemp ordered Creuzot back to her courtroom after the trial to answer contempt charges. Last week, during the vast news wasteland that is the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, Creuzot's attorneys and Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, agreed that the district attorney had not violated Kemp's order.
In his interview with KDFW-TV, Creuzot explained why he believed Guyger, who shot Botham Jean in Jean's apartment, apparently believing she'd entered her own apartment, was correctly charged with murder, rather than manslaughter.
“And so this issue of manslaughter that it was manslaughter — I wrote, ‘No, this is more appropriately a murder case based on the facts as reported,’” Creuzot said. “I’ve studied what we have, and I feel comfortable going forward on it, but I don’t have any idea as to how it will end up.”
Creuzot's statements, both sides agreed, did not violate Kemp's order.
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"A prosecutor stating that he believed the evidence would support the charge brought is unremarkable," said the court order, signed by presiding Judge John L. McCraw Jr. "It does not reveal any evidence or legal theories, and it is not inflammatory or prejudicial. While Creuzot should've declined comment about the case in light of the order, his specific statements did not violate the restrictions (contained in the order)."
Brian Wice, one of Creuzot's attorneys, said he wasn't surprised the contempt charges against Creuzot were dismissed.
"This fair, right, and just resolution reaffirms the fundamental principle that judicial rulings driven by bias and animus and not the neutral and dispassionate application of the law to the facts have absolutely no place in our criminal justice system," Wice said in a statement to media outlets.