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Kentucky Judge Threatened With Removal From Criminal Cases Over Facebook Posts

Protests have been held in Jefferson County, Kentucky, in support of Judge Olu Stevens, who could possibly be removed from criminal trials because he dismissed an all-white jury for being unrepresentative of the community.

Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine has asked the state’s Supreme Court to rule on Stevens’ future. The decision, scheduled for the week of Nov. 23, was pushed back to the week of Nov. 30, NY Daily News reported.

In November 2014, Stevens dismissed a jury panel of 41 which had only three African-American representatives. Then in October, at the request of the defense in a case, he dismissed an all-white jury.

According to the latest census, 22 percent of the Jefferson County population is black, and 73 percent is white.

“When you stand up, you never know if you’re going to be standing alone, and I can see now he is not standing alone,” said Stevens’ wife, Raymonda Stevens, at a rally Nov. 20, according to the Courier Journal.

“It is about justice. It is about equality. It is about inclusion,” she added.

Wine is demanding Stevens’ removal from criminal cases because he claims the judge posted critical comments about the prosecutor’s office on social media.

“When a black man is acquitted and then the prosecutor asserts his right to an all-white jury panel, those who remain silent have chosen comfort over principle,” Stevens wrote, according to the NY Daily News.

“The Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney claims I’m the only one of 200,” Stevens wrote three days earlier. “I would venture to say that he is the first prosecutor in the history of American jurisprudence to lose a jury trial and appeal claiming the jury should have been all-white. I guess he believes that would have changed the result.”

Stevens maintains he can stay impartial despite his comments.

“The suggestion by anyone that Judge Stevens should be removed from criminal cases in this jurisdiction should shock, offend and disappoint every single one of us,” said Jessica Green, a local councilwoman, at the rally, the Courier Journal reported.

Supporters of Wine have responded by setting up a Facebook page called "Olu Stevens needs to be fired."

Sources: NY Daily News, Courier Journal / Photo credit: Courier Journal

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