BY JORDAN SMITH, 1:50PM, TUE. JUN. 4
A complaint filed today by several civil rights groups, including one funded entirely by the government of Mexico, alleges that federal Judge Edith Jones has violated her duty to be impartial and damaged the public's confidence in the judiciary, in statements she made in a public lecture – including that blacks and Hispanics are more violent.
Indeed, Jones also said that a death sentence provides a public service by allowing an inmate to "make peace with God."
Jones, who sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – based in New Orleans, its jurisdiction includes Texas – made numerous offensive and biased comments during a February lecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, according to the complaint filed pursuant to the federal Judicial Conduct and Disability Act. The complaint, filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project, Austin NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program (among others) alleges that during her talk – billed as "Federal Death Penalty Review with Judge Edith Jones (5th Cir.)" – Jones violated a number of canons of the code of conduct for federal judges.
The lecture was not recorded, but witnesses recalled a number of Jones' controversial statements. The views she expressed included not only that minorities are responsible for more violent crime than are whites, but also that claims by death row inmates that racism or arbitrariness infected their prosecutions, or that they are actually innocent or even mentally retarded, are merely "red herrings," according to those who attended the lecture. She told the law students and other attendees that she thought the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling outlawing the death penalty for the mentally retarded did intellectually disabled individuals a disservice, and that to create such an exemption from execution was a "slippery slope," reads the complaint. "In describing … what Judge Jones said about these cases, I am not able to capture the complete outrage she expressed over the crimes or the disgust she evinced over the defense raised, particularly by the defendants who claimed to be mentally retarded," reads the declaration, filed with the complaint, of veteran Pennsylvania-based death penalty attorney Marc Bookman, who attended the lecture. "Judge Jones's disgust at how these defendants were 'using mental retardation' was very evident and very disconcerting," reads the complaint.
Here's my 2002 article on the Supreme Court's naive decision exempting from the death penalty killers with low IQs.
Further, Jones "denigrated" the system of justice in Mexico and said it was an "insult" when the U.S. considered laws in other countries when looking at the death penalty – presumably including in Mexico, where capital punishment was outlawed in 2005. Jones also told the audience that "any Mexican National would rather be on death row in the United States than in a Mexican prison," reads the complaint, and indicated that the U.S. provides Mexican citizens more legal protections than does their own system of justice. Moreover, according to the complaint, Jones referred to her personal religious views as justification for the death penalty. A killer is "only likely to make peace with God and the victim's family in that moment when the killer faces imminent execution," she said – a proposition that she said she found evidence for in an article she and her husband found online called "Hanging Concentrates the Mind." (Apparently by Rev. George W. Rutler, in the Catholic magazine Crisis, Feb. 8, 2013.)
Perhaps Samuel Johnson suggested this before 2013?
Moreover, according to the complaint, Jones asserted as fact the proposition that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to commit violent crimes.
When asked to explain her comments, "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,'" reads the complaint.
According to a 2011 Obama Administration report:
Based on available data from 1980 to 2008—
Blacks were disproportionately represented as both homicide victims and oﬀenders.…The oﬀending rate for blacks (34.4 per 100,000) was almost 8 times higher than the rate for whites (4.5 per 100,000).
Back to the Austin Chronicle:
... Jones, 64, was appointed to the Fifth Circuit in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan. The UT Law graduate is an opponent of abortion rights and a supporter of efforts to streamline appeals in death penalty cases. She was twice mentioned as a potential nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court – first during the presidency of George H.W. Bush (who chose David Souter to fill the spot in question), and in 2005, Jones' name resurfaced as a possible nominee of President George W. Bush.
The supreme duty of contemporary Americans is to be ignorant.