A group of clergy has warned a judge in a murder case that he must issue a guilty verdict or he will have blood on his hands. A former St. Louis policeman shot a man after a chase in 2011. 

Prosecutors allege the policeman planted a .38 caliber revolver in the victim’s crashed car after shooting him at close range five times.

It was not a  jury trial and it is up to the judge to make a decision in the case.

The group in a letter said any decision the judge makes other than a guilty verdict will make the judge liable for any “ensuing unrest or acts of aggression.In biblical terms, ‘the blood will be on your hands’,” the group wrote. In an earlier threat, a group warned the judge that if the former policeman is acquitted of murder, “mass disruption” would result.

St. Louis officials have been preparing for a demonstration if a guilty verdict is not given. A spokesperson for the group said they are not advocating violence and do not favor destruction.

It is unsettling when a group calls for a judge to render a guilty verdict. The judge must make a decision on the merits of the case.  The judge has to follow the law and make a decision on the evidence and circumstances in the shooting. Judges face tough decisions in many cases. Often their decisions are not favorable to the parties involved or to the general public. But a judge must follow the rules of law and must not bow to pressure placed on him.

In our system of justice, which is not perfect, rules must be followed to maintain an orderly environment for society as a whole. A judge has an obligation to follow the law and not be intimidated by pressure from individuals or groups. To threaten or warn a judge of disorderly conduct if a judgment is not favorable to them is wrong and goes against the grain of our system of justice.

You don’t tell a judge how to decide a case or else . . .