Kentucky Judge Benched |Over Racial Comments

     (CN) – A Louisville, Ky. judge was suspended for 90 days without pay on Monday for racially charged comments he made about a local prosecutor.
     Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens was charged with several counts of judicial misconduct in April, most of them stemming from comments he made about a prosecutor, Tom Wine, who had challenged the judge’s decision to dismiss an all-white jury in a robbery case.
     Many of the comments that got Stevens in hot water were made on his Facebook page.
     The state Judicial Conduct Commission was set to hear the case against the judge, who is black, Monday, but just before the hearing was set to begin, the parties to the proceeding announced they’d reached a settlement.
     “I recognize how serious it is to accuse someone, either expressly or implicitly, of racism,” Stevens read from a prepared statement. “I do not believe Tom Wine is a racist. I apologize for any statements that implied as much.”
     Stevens had been arguing for the commission to dismiss the charges against him, contending they were a violation of his First Amendment rights.
     He also argued that as a judge he had a duty to comment on what he believes is the systemic exclusion of blacks from juries.
     The commission, which is the disciplinary arm of the judicial branch and had planned to call witnesses this week in a Jefferson County courtroom, took a brief recess to discuss the agreement before accepting it 6-0.
     Under the terms of the agreement, Stevens will be suspended without pay until October 30.
     Stevens, who has been suspended with pay since April, faced reprimand, further suspension or even removed from the bench if he had been found guilty.

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