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Visiting judge to determine whether judge in Amber Guyger case will be recused from Dallas DA’s contempt hearing

A visiting judge will determine at a hearing Friday whether the judge who held Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot in contempt during Amber Guyger’s murder trial will oversee the case against the DA.

Creuzot is asking for state District Judge Tammy Kemp, who held the district attorney in contempt, to be removed from the case.

Creuzot will eventually appear at a hearing to show why he should not be held in contempt for an interview he did about the Guyger case with KDFW-TV (Channel 4). The interview aired Sept. 22, the night before the trial began. A prior hearing set for Halloween was postponed.

Kemp said in an order she signed last month that the interview was in “direct violation” of a gag order that prevented prosecutors and the defense from speaking publicly about the Guyger case.

Another judge called off the Oct. 31 hearing and assigned visiting judge Robert Brotherton to preside over the hearing on whether Kemp should be recused. Brotherton also could decide whether Kemp’s order that the DA’s office cannot represent Creuzot can stand.

In the interview, Creuzot said he thought Guyger was correctly charged with murder, rather than the manslaughter charge she had been arrested on, for fatally shooting Botham Jean in his apartment last year.

“So this issue of manslaughter, that it was manslaughter — I wrote, ‘No, this is more appropriately a murder case based on the facts as reported,’” he said in the brief interview clip. “I’ve studied what we have, and I feel comfortable going forward on it, but I don’t have any idea as to how it will end up.” She questioned each of the jurors and alternate jurors individually, and they told her that none of them had seen it.

At the end of the day, after the jury was dismissed, Kemp asked prosecutors to admonish Creuzot and tell him the gag order applies to him, too.

Brian Wice, who represents Creuzot on the contempt citation, declined to comment.

In a motion filed last week, Wice argued that Kemp should be recused from the case, calling the proceedings the result of Kemp’s “apparent confusion of an offense to her sensibilities with obstruction to the administration of justice.”

The motion also calls the gag order the “Pandora’s Box from which all of the evils that have spawned this recusal hearing.” It also argues that the gag order was unconstitutional and that it did not prohibit Creuzot from doing the interview with KDFW-TV.

Brotherton also presided over the contempt hearing for a previous elected Dallas County district attorney held in contempt.

In that case, former DA Craig Watkins was held in contempt in March 2013 by then-judge Lena Levario when he refused to testify at a hearing examining allegations of misconduct against them. Ultimately, Brotherton acquitted Watkins of contempt because he ruled Levario should not have held the hearing.

Kemp now presides over the same courtroom Levario did when the latter held Watkins in contempt. Kemp defeated Levario in the Democratic primary in 2014.