Nonprofit files complaint against judge in Botham Jean case for giving convicted officer a Bible
© Kaufman County Sheriff's Office/Screenshot

A nonprofit group has filed a complaint against Judge Tammy Kemp, who gave former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger a Bible Wednesday after she was sentenced for the murder of Botham Jean.

Guyger fatally shot Jean in his own apartment after she said she mistook it for her own. Prosecutors asked the jury to sentence her to 28 years, but she was ultimately given 10.

After her sentencing, Jean’s brother, Brandt Jean, spoke from the witness stand, saying that he did not “even want you to go to jail” and that he hopes Guyger “gives her life to Christ.”

Jean later embraced Guyger in a hug that quickly went viral. Afterward, Kemp also embraced Guyger and gave her a personal Bible.


"You can have mine. I have three or four more at home," she said. "This is the one I use every day. This is your job for the next month. It says right here. John 3:16. And this is where you start. 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.' "

The complaint, filed Thursday to the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, argues that “These proselytizing actions overstepped judicial authority, were inappropriate and were unconstitutional.”

“We understand that it was an emotional moment, particularly when the victim’s brother, Brandt Jean, publicly forgave and hugged Guyger. It is perfectly acceptable for private citizens to express their religious beliefs in court, but the rules are different for those acting in a governmental role,” the filing states.

“We, too, believe our criminal justice system needs more compassion from judges and prosecutors. But here, compassion crossed the line into coercion. And there can be few relationships more coercive than a sentencing judge in a criminal trial and a citizen accused and convicted of a crime,” it continues.

The complaint argues that Kemp giving Guyger the Bible and directing her to particular verses is “an egregious abuse of power” because Kemp was acting in a governmental capacity.

“It violates a vital constitutional principle for a sitting judge to promote personal religious beliefs while acting in her official capacity. She was in a government courtroom, dressed in a judicial robe, with all of the imprimatur of the state, including armed law enforcement officers, preaching to someone who was quite literally a captive audience, and even instructing her on which bible verses to read!” the filing states.

The filing, signed by Freedom from Religion Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, requests that the commission investigate Kemp’s actions and “take all appropriate steps to ensure no future misconduct.”