A federal appeals judge in Texas is accused of saying minorities are more apt than other groups to commit crime and that complaints of racial bias in death sentencing are a "red herring."
Civil rights organizations filed a complaint against 5th Circuit Judge Edith Jones this week for remarks they say she made at a February speech to the Federalist Society at the University of Pennsylvania Law School about racial bias in death row sentencing.
The groups say the comments are prejudiced and call into question Jones' ability to be an impartial and fair judge.
Jones' law office in Houston said the judge declines to comment on the case.
According to several people present who signed affidavits for the complaint, Jones said:
“[S]adly some groups seem to commit more heinous crimes than others.” When asked to explain her remarks, she stated that there was “no arguing” that “Blacks and Hispanics” outnumber “Anglos” on death row and “sadly” it was a “statistical fact” that people “from these racial groups get involved in more violent crime.” By way of example, she asserted as a “fact” that “a lot of Hispanic people [are] involved in drug trafficking,” which itself “involved a lot of violent crime.”
The judge said "certain racial groups" are "prone" to violence, according to the complaint. Jones, a Reagan appointee, also defended the use of the death penalty because “a killer is only likely to make peace with God and the victim’s family in that moment when the killer faces imminent execution, recognizing that he or she is about to face God’s judgment,” according to the complaint.
No transcript or recording exists of the speech, according to the Federalist Society.
The 5th Circuit's chief judge, Carl E. Stewart, will decide whether to dismiss or pursue the complaint, according to The New York Times.