Kentucky Judge Olu Stevens was ordered to serve a 90 day suspension without pay on Monday; all for insinuating that prosecutor Tom Wine supported racial divides.
Judge Stevens faced possible removal from the bench if he contested the suspension.
In fact, last week Judge Stevens dropped his lawsuit against the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission where he alleged his “First Amendment right to speak on such matters fraught with public concern” were being violated.
The judge’s lawsuit was in response to the prosecutor’s request that he be removed from all criminal cases.
Wine even went to the Supreme Court to inquire if Judge Stevens was abusing his power by dismissing an all white jury.
The 2015 jury dismissal was the second time Judge Stevens ordered a new jury. In November 2014 during a theft trial, he ordered a new jury after all the selected jurors were white.
Some of the statements the judge made on Facebook were as follows, which prompted the state Judicial Conduct Commission to begin investigating him in 2015:
“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.”
The Judicial Conduct Commission concluded that Stevens misled the public and did not act impartially in his disagreements with Wine.
Judge Stevens apologized for his comments in a statement that can be read here.
Wine said he accepts Stevens’ apology and issued this statement:
“I have had no personal animosity towards Judge Stevens and I have none now,” he wrote. “I believe my energies and focus are better spent working for justice and fairness with our criminal justice partners and protecting victims of crime.”
In defense of his actions, the judge stated: “Kentucky has a history of racism within its criminal justice system and jury selection system and the lack of diversity on juries has remained unaddressed by prosecutors.”