New Braunfels, TX – As a Comal County district court jury deliberated on a sex trafficking case on Jan. 12, the presiding judge interrupted them twice to tell them that God had instructed him to ask that they deliver a not guilty verdict in the matter.
Judge Jack Robison apologized to the jurors, but explained that “when God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,” the Statesman reported.
The jury was tasked with determining whether Gloria Romero-Perez, 32, had trafficked her teenaged niece.
They found her guilty of trafficking a person, but found her not guilty of sale or purchase of a child, WSB reported.
Robison recused himself before the sentencing phase of Romero-Perez’s proceedings, and was replaced by Judge Gary Steele, the Dallas News reported.
Defense attorney Sylvia Cavazos’ request for a mistrial was denied, WSB reported.
Cavazos said that Robison felt like he had done the right thing, and that he reiterated in chambers that God had told him to act, ABC News reported.
She said that Robison acknowledged that it was improper of him to attempt to sway the jury, but that he was at peace with it because it was God’s will, the Statesman reported.
Cavazos said she will seek a retrial.
According to the Statesman, legal observers said that the judge’s interruptions constituted a violation of the code of ethics that requires impartiality on the part of jurors. His actions could trigger an investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
In 2011, the commission determined that Robison improperly jailed a man in a child custody case, after the man called the judge a fool.
The commission issued a private reprimand, and noted that Robison had “exceeded the scope of his authority and failed to comply with the law” when he jailed the man without a hearing or advanced notice of the criminal contempt charge, the Statesman reported.
The commission’s executive director, Eric Vinson, refused to confirm or deny reports that a complaint had been filed against the judge.
Robison also refused to comment on the matter, court administrator Steve Thomas told ABC News.