Judge Tammy Kemp of the Dallas County District Court has been forced to defend her acts of compassion towards an ex-police officer, who was recently convicted of murder and sentenced to 10-years in prison, after various atheist groups and many in the black community expressed their anger over her actions.
Former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger was convicted of the murder of Botham Jean last Wednesday, and in the aftermath Judge Kemp hugged the ex-officer, and gave Guyger her own personal Bible.
Following criticism, Judge Kemp has said she does not regret showing compassion to Guyger, explaining that her actions were born out of Christian compassion.
Judge Kemp has said she serves as a deaconess at a church in Dallas, Texas, and has been a member for more than 25 years now.
The 57-year-old judge has also said she keeps a Bible in her chambers as a reminder to start her day with prayer, and she says she is a firm believer in redemption.
At the end of Guyger's trial, the judge allowed Brandt Jean, the younger brother of Botham Jean, to hug the convicted former officer after he publicly forgave her. Judge Kemp also went over to Guyger and encouraged her to be motivated to lead a productive life when she gets out of prison.
Judge Kemp said, "I said to her, 'Ms. Guyger, Brandt Jean has forgiven you. Now please forgive yourself so that you can live a productive life when you get out of prison'."
"She [Guyger] asked me if I thought her life could have purpose. I said, 'I know that it can.' She said, 'I don't know where to start, I don't have a Bible.'"
At that point, Judge Kemp went to her chambers to collect her own personal Bible. She brought it to Guyger and together they read John 3:16.
Following that interaction, Guyger asked Judge Kemp for a hug. The judge admitted that the request caught her off guard, and that she initially hesitated for a moment. However, she decided to oblige the request after Guyger pleaded for the hug a second time. Kemp has said that she has given hugs previously many times with defendants who successfully completed probation or drug treatment.
Now, following criticism of her actions, Judge Kemp says the only regret she has was not hugging Guyger the first time when she asked. She said, "I'm a little embarrassed to say she had to ask me twice".
"The act that she committed was horrific — she murdered Mr. Jean. But none of us are one thing that we've done."