UPDATED: 9:05 a.m. EDT, Mar. 2 –
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) wants an investigation into Harris County, Texas District Judge Michael McSpadden after he made remarks that touched on racial bias against young, Black men in his courtroom.
“Judge McSpadden believes Black men cannot be trusted with bail because they’re taught to have contempt for the justice system,” Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel said in a statement. “It is apparent that he cannot do his job fairly and impartially as required by the U.S. Constitution and by the laws of the state of Texas. A judge demonstrating such bigotry and bias cannot serve in our criminal justice system.”
Ifill continued, “There must be a thorough investigation of Judge McSpadden’s judicial history, and LDF demands that he be forced to take a leave of absence while the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct carries out its review. No defendant can have confidence in Judge McSpadden’s fitness for the bench, and we call on him to resign immediately to help restore Texans’ faith in the integrity of the judicial system.”
McSpadden scolded young Black man for following advice from “rag-tag organizations like Black Lives Matter” in statements to the Houston Chronicle. He has also been the subject of an investigation looking into 30 felony court judges who have instructed lower court judges to deny personal bonds to defendants of color for more than 10 years, the Chronicle reported.
The ACLU also called for McSpadden to step down over the remarks.
A Houston judge is in hot water after he alluded to racial bias in the criminal justice system, saying that young Black male defendants are influenced by “rag-tag organizations like Black Lives Matter.”
State Judge Michael McSpadden, who has been on the bench in Harris County since 1982, is one of more than 30 felony court judges who directed lower court judges to deny personal bonds to defendants of color for more than a decade, according to an investigation by the Houston Chronicle published last week. This is outrageous!
“Who do they get advice from? Rag-tag organizations like Black Lives Matter, which tell you, ‘resist police,’ which is the worst thing in the world you could tell a young black man. They teach contempt for the police; for the whole justice system,” McSpadden said.
Considering these alleged practices, McSpadden has basically shown that racial bias exists in the criminal justice system once again, the ACLU, who are calling for the judge to step down, noted. This systematic problem of bias must be called out. Though some may want to deny bias, there are many public figures who will press the issue.
Ashton Woods, an organizer of Black Lives Matter Houston, is not having what McSpadden said, according to Click 2 Houston.
“People like him need to be voted out because he’s a representation of the old guard,” Woods said.
Claims about McSpadden point to a severely flawed system that is in need of a major overhaul. Biased judges are not a mistake that this system can afford to make to function fairly.
“There are all types down here, all races and they all made mistakes and they may continue to make mistakes. But I think it was very unfair for him to single out blacks,” Tucker Graves, president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, said.
Some of Graves’ black clients were previously treated fairly by McSpadden, but the judge’s reported comments are concerning and indicative of “a systemwide bond problem,” he said.