Federal court judges who publicly express both prejudice towards people of color and people with mental disabilities are not fit to serve in America's courts.
Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the United States DC Circuit Court of Appeal should initiate an immediate investigation into fellow Judge Edith Jones' racially charged comments at a University of Pennsylvania speech. A coalition of civil rights groups has filed a misconduct complaint against Judge Jones. It claims that Judge Jones publicly remarked that "racial groups like African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime," and are "prone to commit acts of violence" and be involved in more violent and "heinous" crimes than people of other ethnicities. Jones also said claims of "mental retardation" by capital defendants disgust her.
Chief Judge Stewart of the US Fifth Circuit asked ths US Supreme Court to transfer the complaint. Following suit, Chief Judge Roberts has now sent the complaint to the DC Circuit, which is headed by Chief Judge Garland.
Such polarizing remarks mar our country's criminal justice system. The Fifth Circuit is responsible for hearing criminal cases on appeal. This Court confirms that criminal convictions were obtained without violating the United States Constitution. Included in the Constitution is the prohibition of death penalty sentences for the mentally impaired – as well as the assurance that race is not a factor in the prosecution or conviction of criminal defendants.
Yet, it seems that Judge Jones is predisposed to judging cases of African-American, Hispanic and mentally impaired criminal defendants differently. Her statements call into question the legitimacy of all criminal convictions that she has previously affirmed or denied. Has she treated white defendants different from criminal defendants of color? Has she improperly considered the culpability of a defendant who was mentally impaired?
In light of these allegations, Chief Judge Stewart must initiate an investigation into Judge Jones's comments and determine whether she has commented judicial misconduct.