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A visiting senior district judge is getting attention after he dressed down a Tarrant County jury for acquitting a DWI criminal defendant, calling jurors’ decision “one of the most bizarre verdicts that I’ve ever seen,” according to a trial transcript.

According to a transcript of an Oct. 29 hearing held after the jury returned its not-guilty verdict, Judge Jerry Ray seemed to focus on a note concerning an Intoxilyzer test that the jury sent out while deliberating in The State of Texas v. David Duc Tran. “You know, and 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,” Ray told the jury, according to a transcript printed on Nov. 11. “The note that you sent out says, ‘Can we ignore the Intoxilyzer.’ And you have the definitions of intoxication . … “ Ray went on to accuse the jury of engaging in “jury nullification,” according to the transcript. “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 evidence. And they maneuver until they get there. Perfect example, the O.J. Simpson trial. … “ “I’ve been around for 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 ever seen,” Ray said, according to the transcript. “Thank you for your service and you are excused.” Ray, who was sitting as a visiting judge in Tarrant County’s County Criminal Court No. 4 and presided over the case, declined comment. Fort Worth solo Jay Caballero represents David Duc Tran and disagrees with Ray’s characterization of the jury’s decision. During the trial, Caballero challenged the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer evidence, which he said showed his client had a .10 blood alcohol level. In Texas, defendants are considered legally intoxicated if they have a .08 blood alcohol level. “First of all, I don’t think there is such a thing as nullification in Texas. The law that was given to the jury—and it is given to every jury in a criminal trial—is: The jury is the sole judge of credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be given to the evidence. That means they can choose to believe part of what a witness says, all of what a witness says or none of it,” Caballero said. “For him to tell them that they ignored the law is, in my estimation, incorrect. They chose to rule in a way that he didn’t like. That’s why I think what he says was a mischaracterization,” Caballero said.

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