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Judge decides in allowing physical contact during cases, sentencing

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) — During the sentencing of former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, Judge Tammy Kemp allowed Brandt Jean, brother of the late Botham, to hug his brother’s murderer.

Words of forgiveness aren’t common but do happen in court.

“Sometimes we have seen that where people have forgiven the perpetrators in the courtroom,” said La Crosse County D.A. Tim Gruenke.

These actions are decided by the judge. The judge presiding can either allow or deny it.

“It was interesting to see the judge allow that, and I could tell she was hesitating because it’s unusual, and things could go bad,” said Gruenke.

“There’s all kinds of measures in courtrooms today to try to isolate those who work in the court system, whether it be the judge or some of the other people who works with him or her to protect them from somebody who doesn’t like the result of something that happens in the courtroom,” said Brent Smith, Lawyer for Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC.

These measures are put in place as protection. That is why the actions allowed during the high profile sentencing were an unusual sight. The hug shared between Judge Kemp and Guyger also received quite a bit of attention.

“It’s really unusual, and something I don’t think is good for our justice system,” said Smith.

Ultimately, the judge has the power to let actions happen in the courtroom. Judge Kemp defended her actions during the sentencing. Smith doesn’t believe that these hugs will become a trend in courtrooms around the United States.



Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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