The Austin Chronicle posts, "Judge Edith Jones: Blacks and Hispanics More Violent," by Jordan Smith. Here are excerpts from this must-read:
A complaint filed today by several civil rights groups, including one funded entirely by the government of Mexico, alleges that federal Judge Edith Jones has violated her duty to be impartial and damaged the public's confidence in the judiciary, in statements she made in a public lecture – including that blacks and Hispanics are more violent.
Indeed, Jones also said that a death sentence provides a public service by allowing an inmate to "make peace with God."
Jones, who sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – based in New Orleans, its jurisdiction includes Texas – made numerous offensive and biased comments during a February lecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, according to the complaint filed pursuant to the federal Judicial Conduct and Disability Act. The complaint, filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project, Austin NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program (among others) alleges that during her talk – billed as "Federal Death Penalty Review with Judge Edith Jones (5th Cir.)" – Jones violated a number of canons of the code of conduct for federal judges.
The lecture was not recorded, but witnesses recalled a number of Jones' controversial statements. The views she expressed included not only that minorities are responsible for more violent crime than are whites, but also that claims by death row inmates that racism or arbitrariness infected their prosecutions, or that they are actually innocent or even mentally retarded, are merely "red herrings," according to those who attended the lecture. She told the law students and other attendees that she thought the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling outlawing the death penalty for the mentally retarded did intellectually disabled individuals a disservice, and that to create such an exemption from execution was a "slippery slope," reads the complaint.
Complaints such as the one against Jones, signed also by a selection of nationally recognized legal ethicists, are filed with the chief judge of the court of appeals in the circuit where the judge at issue sits – in this case, the complaint goes to Carl Stewart, the current chief judge of the Fifth Circuit. Upon review of the complaint, Stewart is tasked with determining whether it should be dismissed, whether to take corrective action, or whether to appoint a special committee to investigate the allegations. In this case, the filers are asking that the complaint be referred to another circuit for consideration – which, if granted, would remove the matter from Stewart and the Fifth Circuit.
Related posts are in the Fifth Circuit category index.