U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

5th Cir Judge Accused of Bias Over Racial Comment

Judge Edith Jones is being accused of racial bias after a comment in her speech to the Federalist Society in February implied that Blacks and Hispanics are more involved in violent crime.

A complaint for judicial misconduct, filed by a broad coalition of civil rights organizations and legal ethics experts, alleged that Judge Jones made statements in her speech at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law that “violated basic rules of judicial ethics,” particularly the duty to remain impartial, reports MySanAntonio.com

Complaints of bias against judicial officers are not uncommon, but they are serious charges.

Judicial Misconduct Complaint

Although this information is not widely published, anyone who believes a judge has prejudice which hampers the effective administration of the court can file a complaint against a judge under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act.

The complaint against the Houston-area judge asserts that Jones said in her 2013 speech that "racial groups like African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime," reports The New York Times.

The allegations don't end with Jones' speech in February 2013, it also claims that she told fellow Judge James Dennis to "shut up" during a hearing on oral arguments and generally failed to maintain proper respect required of federal judges.

Fit to Judge Death Row Cases?

Those worried about Jones' racial bias rightly point out that her comments touch on a pending case involving Duane Buck, a death row inmate who is fighting for a new sentencing hearing based on admission of racially biased testimony, reports The Austin Chronicle.

Judge Jones purportedly said some doozies about death penalty cases such as:

Will any death row inmate believe she is unbiased now?

What's Next For Judge Jones?

If the complaint is deemed to have any merit, disciplinary proceedings will begin against the Fifth Circuit judge, which will allow her to present evidence in her defense.

Judge Jones may find herself at the receiving end of a judicial disciplinary order, like this one that she signed and issued back in 2007.

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