Last year, Judge Edith H. Jones of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals made a series of controversial remarks about race.
Affidavits from attendees pointed to the problematic language, especially from a sitting federal judge. Despite Jones’ offensive remarks, she will not be punished.
According to an ethics complaint, Jones, a Reagan appointee, told the audience that “racial groups like African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime.” A veteran attorney who was in the room said 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.” She was also accused of having said defenses often used in capital cases, including mental retardation and systemic racism, are “red herrings.”
On Wednesday, a panel of judges dismissed the complaint. They released the following statement:
“It appears likely that Judge Jones did suggest that, statistically, African-Americans and/or Hispanics are ‘disproportionately’ involved in certain crimes and ‘disproportionately’ present in federal prisons,” said the panel. “But we must consider Judge Jones’ comments in the context of her express clarifications during the question-and-answer period that she did not mean that certain groups are ‘prone to commit’ such crimes,” the panel of judges said.
An appeal has been filed with the Judicial Conference of the United States. It is requesting its Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability revisit the complaint.
What a very unfortunate and very problematic ruling by the judges regarding this case.
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