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One Kentucky Judge is well-known for stirring controversy in the Bluegrass State, and this time he may have taken it too far.
From the bench and in a number of Facebook posts, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens expressed his disdain for the criminal justice system, and one Kentucky prosecutor in particular, for alleged biases toward blacks, PINAC News reported. Some of Stevens’ Facebook posts included:
“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,”
“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,”
“The Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney claims I am the only one of 200. I would venture to say he is the first prosecutor in the history of American jurisprudence to lose a jury trial and appeal claiming the jury panel should have been all white. I guess he believes that would have changed the result.”
In response to what Stevens called his First Amendment right to free speech, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission (KJCC) issued a notice of their plan to “sanction, suspend or remove” Stevens from his position as judge for violating judicial codes of conduct.
Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., stated, “[Stevens] Appears to flout the directives of the Code of Judicial Conduct, creating a social-media firestorm calculated to aggrandize himself by exploiting the deep-seated and widespread distrust of the criminal-justice system by minority communities.”
Stevens filed a federal lawsuit against the KJCC for its attempt to quiet him, claiming it cannot infringe upon his right to free speech, an act that could also be in possible violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause.
Additionally, the lawsuit is intimately tied to prosecutor Tom Wine who motioned for an all-white jury after a racially diversified one acquitted an African-American criminal suspect. This attorney’s motion added fuel to the flame that would lead to many of Stevens’ Facebook posts.
Judge Stevens is infamous for dismissing juries over their lack of diversity, and has done what some might call undermine the justice system by slapping criminals on the wrist and putting the victim on trial instead.
The Court of Appeals issued a notice just last month ordering Stevens to discontinue dismissing juries on the basis that they do not reflect the community in violation of “both U.S. and Kentucky Supreme Court precedent,” Court of Appeals Judge Irv Maze said, according to PINAC News.
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