"Judge Edith Jones reportedly sees the death penalty as some kind of mercy," is New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry's take.
The death penalty. You've heard it called many things: Vengeance, barbarism, deterrence, justice. But even if you're a faithful, church-going Christian, you may never have heard the death penalty described as Edith Jones, a judge at the federal appeals court in New Orleans, is said to have described it in February. The death penalty, she reportedly said, is an accelerant toward salvation.
Jones has long had a reputation for being rather stonyhearted toward death row inmates. In October 2000, she and another judge upheld the death penalty for Calvin Burdine, a Texas man whose lawyer had slept through much of Burdine's trial. But if she sees the death penalty as a blessing, maybe we should think of her as Burdine's spiritual advocate. She wouldn't have gotten an NAACP award for that ruling though, Burdine being white.
It's not that Jones refuted the testimony of the jurors and the clerk of court who agreed that Burdine's lawyer slept "a bunch" and for "long periods of time." But Burdine, according to a decision that got Jones' approval, had failed to show that his lawyer had napped during "a critical stage" of his trial.
If your life is on the line, you're probably inclined to think that every minute and every second of your trial is a critical stage. Appropriately, a majority of the 5th Circuit disagreed that the napping was no big deal and ordered a new trial for the defendant. Burdine struck a deal with prosecutors after that. In 2003 he pleaded guilty and got three life sentences. His lawyers said then that their client was happy that he was no longer facing execution.
Talking Points Memo posts, "Dem Rep Calls For Investigation Into Judge Accused Of Racial Bias," by Catherine Thompson.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) called for an investigation into allegations that a federal judge made racially biased remarks in a speech at the University of Pennsylvania Law School on Wednesday, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
"The alleged statements, if true, demonstrate personal racial and religious bias as well as questionable legal analysis," Richmond wrote in the letter, as quoted by the Times-Picayune. "These biases are incredibly inappropriate for a sitting jurist at any level, let alone a former chief judge on one of the highest level Article III Courts of Appeal."
Additional blog commentary includes:
'Allegedly Racist Judge Has a History of Saying Awful Stuff," by Jesse Lava at Huffington Post. He's the Campaign Director at Brave New Foundation.
National Review Bench Memos blog posts, "A Disturbing Story About Judge Edith Jones," by Gerard V. Bradley.
Earlier coverage of the controversy begins at the link.