Judge Removed for Ethnic Comments and Cover-Up
RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) - The North Carolina Supreme Court removed Judge Mark H. Badgett from the bench after he ordered a Hispanic man accused of domestic violence to pay child support when none was requested, saying "you people always find a way," and, "I don't know how you treat women in Mexico, but here you don't treat them that way."
After defendant Floyd Mandez Carreon objected, Badgett ordered a deputy clerk to take Carreon's wallet from his pocket, hand over $140 in cash to Kathy Mendez Carreon, and let her take down Floyd's Social Security number.
The defendant quickly hired an attorney, who set out trying to undo the order against his client.
When Badgett found out that the Judicial Standards Commission had ordered an investigation, he talked to the deputy clerk and plaintiff's counsel, suggesting the defendant had been violent and claiming he didn't recall the wallet incident. He told state investigators the same, adding that the defendant was known to carry a gun, that he suspected him of being a gang member based on his appearance, and that the deputy clerk had stood near him at the hearing to ensure safety.
Badgett initially denied ever ordering the deputy to go after Floyd's wallet, but later said he did so in order to "determine Mr. Carreon's true identity."
The standards commission recommended censure, but the appeals court went a step further and removed the judge based on his "willful misconduct."
"(I)nstead of merely relating the truth and letting the chips fall where they may, respondent willfully attempted to cover up his misdeeds," Justice Brady wrote. "This behavior is entirely unacceptable for a lawyer or a judge."
Badgett is a judge of the General Court of Justice, District Court Division, Judicial District 17-B.