Judge Under Fire for Comment About Minorities
By Ben Brumfield and Marlei Martinez, CNN
(CNN) — Civil rights groups filed a complaint this week against a federal judge in Houston after she allegedly said during a lecture that some minorities are prone to violence.
Appeals Court Judge Edith Jones allegedly made the comment while speaking on the death penalty to The Federalist Society at the University of Pennsylvania in February.
The Federalist Society describes itself on its website as “a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of legal order.”
In her remarks, Jones also is alleged to have said that race plays no role in the administration of the death penalty, and that certain ethnic groups commit certain types of crimes more often than others.
Civil rights groups, including the J.L. Turner Legal Association, say Jones’ comments reveal a strong ethnic bias. They are pushing for an investigation that could lead to her removal from the bench.
The J.L. Turner Legal Association is an African-American bar association in Dallas. Its president, Mandy Price, told CNN that some attendees were shocked at what they heard and later complained.
“The reaction in the room when she made these remarks was one of shock, surprise, and offense,” according to one account that the legal association collected from some of the attendees.
According to the some of the accounts in the complaint, the judge said, “Racial groups like African- Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime.”
They are “‘prone to commit acts of violence,” she said, according to the complaint.
When challenges to her comments arose, she allegedly countered them by saying that “Blacks and Hispanics” outnumber “Anglos” on death row.
Price finds such comments reveal strong predispositions sitting judges should not harbor.
“We expect that they’re going to be fair, impartial, not that they have predetermined their case,” she said.
A representative from the court, which is headquartered in New Orleans, declined to comment to CNN, and said Jones was also “not making any comment regarding the matter.”
The Federalist Society called the allegations “frivolous accusations.”