As discussed in class, as I ordinarily do when I teach this course, I would assign you to go to one of Criminal
Courts in the City to observe live proceedings. Due to the ongoing situation with Covid, however, I still cannot
do that. As such, you will watch a video of part of the 2019 murder trial of former Dallas, Texas police officer
Amber Guyger, and then write about it. Guyger, who is white, was charged with murdering her Black neighbor,
Botham Jean. Guyger, who had just gone off-duty, testified at trial that when she shot Jean with her service
pistol she believed she was in her own apartment, and that Jean was an intruder. In fact, Guyger shot Jean—
who was unarmed—in his own apartment. The jury found Guyger guilty and she was sentenced to 10 years in
prison. The case was both very compelling and unusual: Jean’s brother publicly forgave Guyger; and in open
court, both Jean’s brother and the judge offered Guyger hugs, and the judge gave Guyger her personal Bible.
The following three links are your sources for this assignment:
Amber Guyger Gets 10-year Murder Sentence For Fatally Shooting Botham Jean, CNN, 10/3/19
Why a Judge Says She Gave Amber Guyger a Bible, a Hug and Hope of Redemption, New York Times,
Video: Direct and cross-examination of Amber Guyger, ABC News, 9/28/19 [https://www.youtube.com/watch?
1) Review both the New York Times and CNN articles for background on the case. Then watch the video of
Amber Guyger’s testimony. It runs about 3 hours (I realize it is somewhat lengthy, but bear in mind you do not
need to physically travel to and from court to complete the assignment). Note: The entire trial ran about 10
days, but because so few facts were genuinely at issue (e.g., Guyger admitted to shooting Jean), Guyger’s
testimony, and her explanation as to why she shot Jean is essentially the entire case. Also, as with any
Defendant who testifies at trial, Guyger is first questioned by her attorney (this is called direct examination),
and then is cross-examined by the prosecutor.
2) Write at least ten (10) things you learned about trials and/or courtroom proceedings from reviewing these
sources. Feel free to comment about anything. Here are some examples:
Did Guyger’s testimony seem credible or not credible, and why?
What did you think of the defense attorney and/or the prosecutor?
Was it inappropriate for the judge to give Guyger her Bible?
What did you think of the courtroom?
What did you think of the outcome of the case itself? Was justice done, or was the outcome an injustice?
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