UPDATED: Aug. 9, 9:06 AM EST:
A Black Kentucky judge who questioned the fairness of all-White juries in a series of Facebook posts was suspended for 90 days without pay, according to The Courier-Journal.
Jefferson Circuit Judge Olu Stevens also offered an apology after alleging that the county’s top prosecutor, Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine, was “a racist who wanted to preserve the right to all-White juries,” writes the news outlet.
Steven drew national attention recently for dismissing an all-White, 13-member jury panel, calling the lack of diversity “troublesome.” He then took to social media to express his frustration after Wine went to the State Supreme Court to check Steven’s authority to dismiss panels based on a lack of diversity, writes the news outlet:
“My intent in making these comments was to emphasize the need to have jury panels that reflect our Commonwealth’s racial and ethnic diversity so that all individuals can receive fair trials,” Stevens read in court from a prepared statement.
Stevens apologized Monday for broadening his comments to include critiques on Wine and his motives rather than a sole focus on racial representation.
“I realize now that this was wrong,” Stevens said Monday, adding later he doesn’t believe Wine is a racist.
“I apologize for any statements that implied as much,” he added.
Kentucky Judge Who Condemned All-White Juries Blasted For Social Media Posts
A Kentucky judge who rose to national prominence for dismissing all-White jury panels is under fire again. This time, it’s over social media posts against prosecutors, as tensions rise in his “racially charged legal battle,” according to The New York Daily News.
Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton was expected to rule in the case about Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens this week, but the decision on whether he will be removed from all criminal cases was delayed until next week.
Per The Daily News:
Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine called for Stevens to be recused from criminal cases after the judge criticized the prosecutor’s office in a series of Facebook posts.
“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 on Nov. 14.
“History will unfavorably judge a prosecutor who loses a jury trial in which a black man is acquitted and then appeals the matter claiming his entitlement to an all white jury panel. No matter the outcome, he will live in infamy,” he wrote Nov. 12.
Stevens gained national attention recently for dismissing an all-white, 13-member jury panel, calling the lack of diversity “troublesome.”
We agree, it is “troublesome.” We’re glad Stevens is speaking out, because stacking the jury is one way of perpetuating systemic racism. We wish him luck next week.
SOURCE: The New York Daily News | VIDEO SOURCE: Inform