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June 7, 2013

"A Tale of Sound & Fury (But No Transcript): In Defense of Judge Edith Jones"

Edith-Jones-Judge-Edith-H-Jones-Edith-Hollan-JonesThe title of this post is the title of this notable lengthy commentary authored by Tamara Tabo at Above the Law concerning the new complaint of judicial misconduct filed against Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones earlier this week. The piece merits a full read for anyone following this brouhaha, and here are some excerpts:

I interned with and clerked for Judge Jones. I didn’t attend the event in Philadelphia [which served as the basis for the complain], and I haven’t spoken with her about this situation, but I don’t claim to be a fully impartial observer. I could be the first among many to attest to her dignity, intellect, and impeccable ethical standards. I could even tell you how generous with her time and supportive she’s been of my law school, a historically (and still predominantly) black institution.

But I don’t need to do that. I don’t need to offer a character reference in order to rebut the accusations made in this complaint. I don’t even need to contest many of the facts that the complaint alleges. While there’s not enough space here to evaluate each of the charges the complaint makes, let’s have a closer look at a few of them, starting with her alleged comments on race.

According to the complaint, Judge Jones asserted that “certain racial groups commit more of these crimes than others.” She said that “[s]adly some groups seem to commit more heinous crimes than others.” When asked to explain her remarks, she stated that there was “no arguing” that “Blacks and Hispanics” outnumber “Anglos” on death row and “sadly” it was a “statistical fact” that people “from these racial groups get involved in more violent crime.”

Note that she did not say that race causes criminality, only that we see a disproportionately high number of violent offenders of certain races. These are facts. Even without knowing her, you could easily conclude that Judge Jones thinks these are unpleasant facts. That would certainly explain her alleged repeated use of the word “sadly” in reference to these statistics about race and crime.

If Judge Jones had followed these facts with a different policy claim, would we consider factual statements to be proof of impartiality or impropriety? Or is it less that what she stated was false and more that it was simply not to some liberal audience members’ liking? One could cite these same facts, then proceed to argue for all manner of social reforms — ones that address the causes of the racial disparity in criminality. Doing so would be entirely compatible with what Judge Jones allegedly said during her speech.

What if Judge Jones had said that males were more likely to commit violent crimes than females? Would that be a problem? More violent offenders in our justice system are, in fact, male than female, after all. Would any reasonable person accuse Judge Jones — herself a non-male! — of undermining “public confidence in the judiciary” or being so gender-biased that she would be unfit to handle criminal cases? I hope not.

Correlation is not causation. Nothing in the complaint shows that Judge Jones suggested or thinks that race causes criminality.

The complaint further alleges that Judge Jones engaged in misconduct when she discussed capital defendants who raise claims of mental retardation. The complaint’s footnote 10 states, “This term is outdated — now generally replaced by “Intellectually Disabled” — and thus Judge Jones’s use of the term “mental retardation” is kept in quotations.”

I work with clients (in a clinical setting, not a legal one) who suffer from severe cognitive impairments. In that setting, I wouldn’t describe a client as “mentally retarded,” because we’re after more precise diagnoses and because, yes, that catch-all term has fallen out of favor. But do you know who does routinely use the term “mentally retarded” in a professional setting? The United States Supreme Court — as quoted in the complaint’s footnote 11, for example. Using that term suggests a willingness to use a legal term of art, not necessarily some outmoded insensitivity to people, say, with Down’s Syndrome.

It is not disrespectful of individuals with disabilities to be angered by false claims of mental retardation, as Judge Jones allegedly was. It does not malign their dignity to suggest that many are capable of choosing between good and evil. Just because one thinks that a particular legal claim is frequently abused does not mean that every instance of such a claim is abusive or legally frivolous. We’re accusing one of the most respected judges of the federal judiciary of misconduct over something that even the Onion satirizes.

The complaint alleges that Judge Jones “indicated that any Mexican National would rather be on death row in the United States than in a Mexican prison” and “stated that Mexico ‘wasn’t about to provide any of their own citizens with the kind of legal protections the person would get in the United States.” The complaint does not even bother to contest this joke, since it’s (a) a joke, and (b) uncontestable. Even the U.S. consulate helpfully reminds U.S. tourists to Mexico that they won’t benefit from little perks of the American justice system such as the presumption of innocence....

What is it we expect judges to talk about when we invite them to speak, if not some “view from the bench”? We expect them to draw on their actual experiences with actual cases. That is, frankly, why most judges are more interesting to listen to than most law professors.

We rightly expect that judges will not publicly comment on cases currently pending before them. To be clear: no affiant claimed that Judge Jones did so. Once again, even if we take their account of what she said as true, it just doesn’t add up to anything worthy of censure.

If there’s one woman on the planet who doesn’t need a pipsqueak like me defending her, that woman is likely Edith H. Jones. She likely will not dignify these charges with any response. I, however, am not so constrained by that sort of dignity. Obviously.

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Comments

We all can agree that race does not cause criminality; that criminality is not inherent in certain racial groups.
And let's assume that minorities do "commit more heinous crimes than others."

Does this not suggest that committing crimes is less of an *individualist* trait than many of us like to think? That, as a general proposition, many minorities who commit crime do so not as a result of free choice, but rather from some external factor/variable that is especially prevalent in that minority community? Put another way, if J. Jones is merely stating facts, then that means, generally speaking, there is something inherit in minority racial communities causing them to commit more crimes, which cannot be attributed to race itself.

Isn't that the implication of J. Jones' comments? If so, what does that do to a just deserts theory of punishment?

Posted by: anon | Jun 7, 2013 8:22:53 AM

There is no racial disparity in the rate of antisocial personality, the biggest cause of criminality in a controlled society.

The entire difference in crime rates is explained by the rates of bastardy. The VFL destroyed the black family, and we must pay for what the bitch has done, in the form of bigger government. That is the hidden agenda of feminism. It is not even a real ideology, but a masking ideology for left wing government growth. Furthermore, feminism has been a racial supremacy ideology since the 19th Century. Reproductive rights is an euphemism for reducing the fecundity of undesirable ethnic females.

Whites should not feel smug. The bitch and its male running dogs are after the white family, and the results show they are succeeding. Rates of bastardy among whites are catching up rapidly. Only a fool or self-defeating productive male would ever get married given the all out war being waged against him.

The rate of bastardy in extremely dark immigrants from Africa and Haiti is still low. They are still human and have traditional values. Their crime rates are low. Their economic performance exceeds that of whites according to recent Census data.

American blacks are not even black, nor are any African. They are mostly Southern white trash in their gene makeups. So if anyone is called a racist by these clowns and race whores, just laugh. If called a racist, I would immediately demand the resignation of the race whore. There should be zero tolerance for either political correctness, feminism or racial whoredom. If the person is not fired, I would sue for hostile work or other environment. I would accept the risk of unintended consequences of a purge of these internal traitors from our institutions. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 7, 2013 8:55:13 AM

Another example of the hierarchy's triple oppression of the regular judge. I have argued the lawyer hierarchy is oppressing the public, doubly oppresses the lawyer, and triply, the judge.

So when the 15,000 members of the hierarchy are arrested, given an hour's fair trial and immediately executed for insurrection against the constitution, lawyers and judges will benefit even more than the public. Statues of the Supremacy will be put up in front of ABA headquarters in gratitude for the liberation of the lawyer and judge.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 7, 2013 9:01:21 AM

I appreciate this p.o.v. and w/o a transcript, am really rather agnostic about the speech.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 7, 2013 11:14:12 AM

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

The "wise [sic] Latina" specifically links race and quality of judicial decisionmaking. Yet nowhere did I hear libs saying word one about ethics. Instead we saw the utterly laughable: "I stand with Sotomayor."

Notice how no liberals can this. Which is why their whining about Judge Jones is a lot of horse manure.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 7, 2013 9:17:37 PM

Some people have too much ego invested in reputation, both in thinking it worth attacking and in thinking it worth a defense.

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 7, 2013 10:55:22 PM

SupremacyClause: What is the VFL?

Posted by: Liberty1st | Jun 7, 2013 11:35:31 PM

Very able defense of J. Jones.

Posted by: Steveprof | Jun 8, 2013 9:17:35 AM

Liberals have such a double standard. A "wise [sic] Latina" can link race with the quality of decisionmaking, and liberals will "stand" with her--and good grief how pathetic was that "I stand with Sotomayor"? But then they'll jump to conclusions over Judge Jones.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 8, 2013 9:42:31 AM

Liberty1st.

VFL="vile feminist lawyer". It is a term of art that refers to anyone (female or not) who supports an agenda that Claus the Great and All Knowing doesn't happen to agree with.

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 8, 2013 1:54:09 PM

Daniel is an intelligent psychologist with a lot of legal sophistication. I am the ambassador from earth to the legal profession. I seem all knowing because my high school education has not been destroyed by 1L. Modern, intelligent students are indoctrinated into supernatural doctrines, and become mental cripples obedient to a hierarchy from the 13th Century running the Inquisition 2.0.

These high school points devastate the profession the way an ordinary Marine could handle hundreds of knights and breach the castle defenses in minutes if here were to go back to the 13th Century and conduct warfare.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 9, 2013 9:37:33 AM

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