Tarrant County Judge Blasts Jury for Not-Guilty Verdict

David Tran was charged with DWI, and decided on a jury trial. A jury found him not guilty after having harboring doubts about the Intoxilyzer device officers used during his arrest. After hearing the verdict, visiting judge Jerry Ray lambasted the jury.

I've been at this such a long time I know better than to get angry. But you just decided to ignore the law and your oath, and you know you did. The note that you sent out says, “Can we ignore the Intoxilyzer.” And you have the definitions of intoxication. And they were certainly—At least that one was very plain in this case and up on the board for you to see. And for whatever reasons, you chose to ignore that part of the evidence. And you have the right to do that. It's called jury nullification. It's when a jury decides to ignore the law or ignore the evidence. And they just want a certain outcome, and they maneuver until they get there. Perfect example, the O.J. Simpson trial. He clearly committed murder, and the jury didn't want to convict him, so they found a way to—to render a not guilty verdict. So it happens. I've been around over 40 years in this profession, tried an awful lot of cases as a defense lawyer, as a prosecutor, and as a judge, and it happens. But this ranks among there as one of the most bizarre verdicts that I've seen. Thank you for your service, and you are excused.

Ray wasn't finished after this outburst. He turned his attention to Tran.

THE COURT: You got lucky. You absolutely are legally guilty of this offense. But the jury has returned this verdict, and the Court's obligated to accept that verdict, and you are found not guilty. You should not have been drinking, period, zero—

MR. TRAN: I agree.

THE COURT: —zip. Not just that night, but any night. You still shouldn't, you're not 21.

MR. CABALLERO: He—He is actually now.

THE COURT: You are 21?


THE COURT: I thought you were 17.

MR. CABALLERO: At the time.

THE COURT: At the time, that was 3 years ago. My math must be off.

And folks wonder why criminal defense lawyers are big proponents of the jury system.

Read the transcript here.

Criminal TrialsSmythe PC