Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Complaints filed against federal judge Edith Jones

This is a potential blockbuster.

Judge Edith Jones

A broad coalition of groups — including an agency funded by the Mexican government (the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program), various civil rights organizations, legal ethics experts, and law professors — filed the complaint against 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones, who in October relinquished her title as “chief judge” of that court. The New Orleans-based court is one of the most conservative in the country and handles appeals from Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The complaint alleges that at a speech on Feb. 20, 2013, to lawyers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Jones made statements that violated basic rules of judicial ethics, including the fundamental duty of impartiality.

Among her statements:

  • That certain “racial groups like African Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime,” are “’prone’ to commit acts of violence,” and get involved in more violent and “heinous” crimes than people of other ethnicities;
  • That Mexican nationals would prefer to be on death row in the United States rather than serving prison terms in Mexico, and it is an insult for the United States to look to the laws of other countries such as Mexico;
  • That Defendants’ claims of racism, innocence, arbitrariness, and violations of international law and treaties are really nothing more than “red herrings” used by opponents of capital punishment;
  • That claims of “mental retardation” by capital defendants disgust her, and the fact such persons were convicted of a capital crime is itself sufficient to prove they are not in fact “mentally retarded”; and
  • That the imposition of a death sentence provides a positive service to capital-case defendants because defendants are likely to make peace with God only in the moment before their imminent execution.

The Trib has links to the complaint and the affidavits. Kos notes that according to the complaint, Jones “also made prejudicial remarks on cases that have yet to wind their way through the lower courts, cases in which she may have a say during any appeals”, which certainly sounds problematic to me. BOR points out that Jones is hardly a stranger to controversy. Having said all that, the group that sponsored her talk has come to Jones’ defense, so the matter is far from settled. I look forward to seeing how this plays out. The Fifth Circuit is in dire need of a makeover, and if it begins with President Obama getting to name a replacement for Judge Edith Jones, that would be all kinds of awesome.

Related Posts:

9 Comments

  1. Mainstream says:

    As a founding member of the local chapter of the Federalist Society, and someone who has heard Judge Edith Jones speak frequently, this set of complaints sounds completely bogus to me. It is just a reflection of how polarized our political discourse has become. I will look forward to learning more facts.

  2. David2001 says:

    @Mainstream. You already heard and read the facts here. Judge Edith Jones is a ignorant racist who should have never been allowed to become a Judge.

  3. Belinda Stanley says:

    The speech was not recorded and there is no transcript. Is it possible that anything she allegedly said was misconstrued or taken out of context? I find it highly unlikely that a judge of Edith Jones’ stature would make any public statement that she could not back up with facts. As to her religious beliefs, has it come to the point where judges in this country are not allowed to have any? Or if they do, are they never allowed to talk about them?

  4. David – Let’s please keep this civil. Thanks.

    Belinda – There was no recording, but there were several sworn affidavits filed by people who attended the event. I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding is that an affidavit is a sworn document, meaning that any false statements made in them leave you liable for perjury charges. This is serious business, in other words. And the issue is not about her faith, but about her ability to be impartial, and about her judicial temperament. The things she is alleged to have said call her ability to fairly judge these cases into question.

  5. Nancy Walker says:

    Please save me the time to research. By whom was Edith Jones appointed? And, is a federal judge appointed for life? Under what conditions/circumstances can an appointed federal judge be removed from the bench?

    Thank you,
    Nancy Walker
    walker.nancy00@gmail.com

  6. Nancy,

    1. Ronald Reagan
    2. Yes, but
    3. They can be impeached for various forms of misconduct (see, for one egregious example, Samuel Kent). See http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_can_a_federal_judge_be_removed_from_office for more. Most likely, if the allegations about Jones are sustained, she will be censured, but that would leave her on the bench. It could, however, cause her to step down voluntarily.

  7. Allen Cassenorp says:

    If the allegations are true, she needs to resign. The fact that 6 people are willing to sign their name to an affidavit attesting to what she said is significant. No way in the world would any black or hispanic litigant or defendant get a fair hearing in front of this woman. Go home, Edith.

  8. […] here for the background. Chief Justice Roberts’ letter is here, and more on the details of the […]

  9. […] here and here for the background. Even if the Chief Judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals writes up a […]

Bookmark and Share