DALLAS - Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot could be in legal hot water for violating a gag order ahead of the Amber Guyger murder trial.
Creuzot was served a summons for a contempt of court hearing late Friday by Judge Tammy Kemp’s court. Creuzot gave an interview to FOX4 where he briefly spoke about the upcoming trial. The video aired the night before proceedings began and the morning it started.
Defense attorneys for Amber Guyger asked Kemp to declare a mistrial over the interview, but Kemp opted not to after jurors said they hadn’t seen the report or read it on Fox4News.com.
Creuzot will have to explain to Kemp at the hearing why he “should not be held in contempt of this Court” for the interview, which the court said was “in direct violation of this Court’s order restricting publicity in the Amber Guyger case.”
George Milner is an attorney not associated with the case. He says this comes down to a disagreement over the wording in the original gag order.
“You have the classic situation of two lawyers who cannot agree,” Milner said. “You get into the semantics of the order. Judge Kemp very carefully tried to narrow this with the first amendment restrictions on a gag order. And you've got Judge Creuzot who's interpreting that order and I would assume believes to the bottom of his heart that he did not breach that order.”
The decision could also play a role in potential appeal efforts by Guyger's defense team. Before the trial began, they had tried to get it moved out of Dallas County.
“If they decide to appeal on this issue, this is further evidence to support their claim that Amber Guyger could never have gotten a fair trial in Dallas County,” Milner said.
The order from judge kemp comes as the DA's office faces criticism over evidence prosecutors presented involving Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata.
Surveillance camera video that jurors did not see showed Mata open a squad car door and talk to Guyger and direct another officer to turn of the in-car recording.
Prosecutors suggested Guyger received special treatment. Mata says it was to protect her attorney-client privilege as she was about to speak with an attorney on the phone.
National Fraternal Order of Police President Steve Stribley came to Mata’s defense on Friday.
"It was unnecessary, it was wrong and it was so grossly irresponsible that I believe it constitutes prosecutorial misconduct,” Stribley said. “As her union representative, President Mata would have been negligent had he not made the request."
The gag order was enacted by Kemp ahead of the trial. The contempt of court hearing is set for October 31.
Guyger was found guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of Botham Jean in September 2018 and was sentenced this week to 10 years in prison.
Creuzot declined to comment Friday evening when contacted by FOX4.