Wed Jun 5, 2013, 08:58 AM
marble falls (10,043 posts)
Judge accused of racial bias in speech
Complaint Accuses U.S. Judge in Texas of Racial Bias
By ETHAN BRONNER
Published: June 4, 2013
A group of civil rights organizations and legal ethicists filed a complaint of misconduct against a senior federal judge on Tuesday, alleging that recent remarks of hers showed bias against minority groups and an inappropriate religious belief in the death penalty.
The complaint, against Judge Edith H. Jones of Houston, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, asserts that at a speech at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in February she said that blacks and Hispanics were more prone than others to commit violent crimes and that a death sentence was a service to defendants because it allowed them to make peace with God.
The complaint is signed by representatives of, among others, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program and cites a number of people who attended the lecture.
One of the affidavits accompanying the complaint is from Marc Bookman, a veteran death penalty lawyer in Pennsylvania, who attended the lecture. He quoted Judge Jones as saying, “Sadly, some groups seem to commit more heinous crimes than others.” When asked to elaborate, Judge Jones “noted there was no arguing that ‘blacks’ and ‘Hispanics’ far outnumber ‘Anglos’ on death row and repeated that ‘sadly’ people from these racial groups do get involved in more violent crime,” the affidavit said.
Mr. Bookman said in a telephone interview that when the judge was questioned by angry students, “She defensively backed off what she had said or, at least, what the audience had interpreted it to mean.”
Judge Jones is alleged to have said that the defenses often offered in capital cases, including mental retardation and systemic racism, were “red herrings.” She also said, according to the witnesses, that Mexicans would prefer to be on death row in the United States rather than in prison in Mexico.
Charles W. Wolfram, one of the country’s experts in legal ethics who is retired from Cornell Law School, said Judge Jones’s alleged statements were a cause of great concern.
“If I were a parent of a black with borderline IQ accused in a capital case, would I be distressed in knowing that Judge Jones was sitting on my case?” he asked in a telephone interview. “Yes, I would. She seems to have made up her mind on these issues. She is slanted. That is the whole point of the impartiality requirement.”
Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics scholar at New York University, said that if Judge Jones really did say that death penalties serve the condemned by forcing them to face God, that was troubling.
“If a judge were to say that during sentencing, that sentence would be vacated,” he said. “It suggests that she believes she is helping the accused by giving a death sentence. That is totally inappropriate.” He said the central question concerning her alleged statements about race and crime depended heavily on tone and context.
The fate of the complaint now lies with the circuit’s chief judge, Carl E. Stewart of Louisiana, the first black in the job. He could dismiss it, speak privately with Judge Jones or order an investigation and set up a committee of judges either in his circuit or another one. Most complaints against judges, many of which come from inmates, are dismissed.
Another reason to be careful with whom I share my being from Texas.
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Judge accused of racial bias in speech (Original post)
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Response to marble falls (Original post)
Wed Jun 5, 2013, 09:15 AM
Starry Messenger (31,383 posts)
1. Did you mean to post this in the Socialist Progressives group?
I just wanted to make sure. It looks like a good article, but you may have meant it to go in GD or somewhere else. This is a sub-forum.