"Complaint: Judge's Death Penalty Remarks Show Racial Bias," is Brandi Grissom's Texas Tribune report.
A federal appellate judge from Texas is facing a judicial misconduct complaint over comments she made regarding race and the death penalty during a speech.
According to a complaint filed Tuesday by civil rights groups, ethicists and a legal aid organization, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones allegedly said during a February event at the University of Pennsylvania Law School that “racial groups like African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime,” and that they get involved in more violent and “heinous” crimes than people of other ethnicities.
A staff member reached by phone at Jones' office said the judge would not make any comments about the complaint. No audio recording of the speech is available.
Jones, a former chief judge of the New Orleans-based appeals court who practiced in Houston before her 1985 appointment to the federal bench, wrote the court's opinion last year that allowed the Texas sonogram law to stand.
At the February event, she also reportedly said that Mexican nationals would rather be in a Texas prison than in a prison in their home country. The complaint also takes issue with comments the judge reportedly made criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court’s prohibition on executing the mentally retarded.
The New York Times coverage is, "Complaint Accuses U.S. Judge in Texas of Racial Bias," by Ethan Bronner.
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.”
Another affidavit is from James M. McCormack, former chief disciplinary counsel for the Texas bar, who said that based on the complaint, “it is my opinion that Judge Jones violated the ethical standards applicable to federal judges under the Code of Conduct for United States judges.”
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.”
"Federal judge accused of making racial comments," is the AP filing by Will Weissert. It's via the Austin American-Statesman.
A coalition of civil rights organizations filed a judicial misconduct complaint Tuesday against a conservative federal judge for comments she allegedly made during a speech that are seen as discriminatory.
Judge Edith Jones of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans addressed the University of Pennsylvania law school on Feb. 20. Her comments were not recorded, but five students and one attorney who were in attendance signed affidavits on what was said.
Those were used to generate a 12-page complaint filed in New Orleans stating that Jones “has engaged in conduct that is prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts, undermines public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, and creates a strong appearance of impropriety.”
"Federal appeals judge is accused of racial bias for alleged comments on criminal propensities," by Debra Cassens Weiss for the ABA Journal.
Jones is also accused of saying that the death penalty had Biblical origins and it is beneficial to capital defendants. According to the complaint, "She stated that 'a killer is only likely to make peace with God and the victim’s family in that moment when the killer faces imminent execution, recognizing that he or she is about to face God’s judgment.' ”
The complaint also claims that Jones discussed pending cases and that, during a question and answer portion of the program, Jones lost her composure to such an extent that the host of the program abruptly ended the session.
The complaint also targets Jones for a well-publicized confrontation with a colleague during oral arguments in September 2011 in which she accused Judge James Dennis of monopolizing the questioning and told him to “shut up.”
"Complaint alleges federal judge is prejudiced, biased," by Guillermo Contreras for the San Antonio Express-News.
A judge who spent her formative years in San Antonio and was previously considered for a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court is facing a judicial-misconduct complaint over allegations that she made “astonishingly and flagrantly biased” statements against minority groups and people with mental disabilities.
A broad coalition of groups — including an agency funded by the Mexican government (the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program), various civil rights organizations, legal ethics experts, and law professors — filed the complaint against 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones, who in October relinquished her title as “chief judge” of that court. The New Orleans-based court is one of the most conservative in the country and handles appeals from Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
"Judicial complaint cites federal judge for racially charged comments," by John Simerman of the Baton Rouge Advocate.
Another attendee, identified only as “C.C.” in an affidavit, claimed Jones made the statement about black people and Hispanics being “pre-disposed” to crime, adding that “an awful lot of Hispanics are involved in drug trafficking, and that certain races happen to engage in violent crime more than others.”
“The reaction in the room when she made these remarks was one of shock, surprise and offense,” “C.C.” declared. “As a judge, she came off sounding distasteful and tactless.”
Earlier coverage of the ethics complaint is at the link. As noted in yesterday's Austin Chronicle report, the complaint will be handled by Carl Stewart, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.