“A state district judge in Comal County said God told him to intervene in jury deliberations to sway jurors to return a not guilty verdict in the trial of a Buda woman accused of trafficking a teen girl for sex.
Judge Jack Robison apologized to jurors for the interruption, but defended his actions by telling them “when God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,” according to the Herald-Zeitung in New Braunfels.
The jury went against the judge’s wishes, finding Gloria Romero-Perez guilty of continuous trafficking of a person and later sentenced her to 25 years in prison. They found her not guilty of a separate charge of sale or purchase of a child.
Robison, who also presides in Hays and Caldwell counties, did not respond to a message left with his court coordinator, Steve Thomas, who said the case is still pending. Robison is scheduled to return to the bench in Comal County on Jan. 31.
The Herald-Zeitung reported that Robison recused himself before the trial’s sentencing phase and was replaced by Judge Gary Steele. The defendant’s attorney asked for a mistrial, but was denied.
Robison’s actions could trigger an investigation from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which has disciplined Robison in the past.
In 2011, the commission slapped Robison with a private reprimand for improperly jailing a Caldwell County grandfather who had called him a fool for a ruling Robison made in a child custody case involving the man’s granddaughter.
The reprimand, the commission’s harshest form of rebuke, said Robison “exceeded the scope of his authority and failed to comply with the law” by jailing the man for contempt of court without a hearing or advance notice of the charge.
The act of intervening in a jury’s deliberations is not addressed in the state’s list of judicial canons, which serves as an ethical code for judges. However, it states judges shall “comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Eric Vinson, executive director for the commission, said he would not be able to confirm or deny if a complaint had been filed against Robison.”