Several civil rights groups have filed a complaint alleging that a federal judge made numerous offensive and biased comments while giving a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.
The complaint said that Judge Edith Jones, who sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said that blacks and Hispanics are more violent and a death sentence provides a public service by allowing an inmate to "make peace with God."
The complaint was filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project, Austin NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program and others.
Jones’ lecture, "Federal Death Penalty Review with Judge Edith Jones (5th Cir.)," was not recorded, but attendees remember some of what she had to say.
The complaint states that Jones "has engaged in conduct that is prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts, undermines public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and creates a strong appearance of impropriety."
She is specifically accused of saying certain "racial groups like African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime," and are "prone to commit acts of violence."
In a detailed affidavit, legal ethicist James McCormack wrote that Jones’ speech violates many provisions within the judicial code of conduct, The Austin Chronicle reported.
"Her inflammatory remarks evince bias and prejudice and serve to lower public confidence in our judiciary," reads the affidavit. "I view this episode as a very sad and unfortunate chapter in the history of our federal judiciary. Most federal judges strive mightily to act fairly and impartially and to strengthen — rather than erode — public confidence in our system of justice.”
He added: "Judge Jones's conduct militates in the opposite direction. In my opinion, unless an appropriate disciplinary authority strongly disapproves of ... Jones's statements and properly addresses her flagrant misconduct, our judicial system — and our federal appellate courts in particular — will suffer the consequences of diminished public respect and confidence."