We learned last week that Judge Edith Jones of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is under fire after a Federalist Society speech she delivered in February. According to affidavits from attendees, Jones said that racial groups like African Americans and Hispanics “do get involved in more violent crime” than “Anglos.”
The conservative jurist, appointed by Reagan and considered for the Supreme Court by George W. Bush, is also alleged to have said that the defenses often offered in capital cases, including mental retardation and systemic racism, were “red herrings,” and Mexicans would prefer to be on death row in the United States rather than in prison in Mexico.
It appears the complaints against Jones are being taken quite seriously.
Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court formally ordered on Wednesday that a rare public judicial misconduct complaint against 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones be reviewed by officials in a different circuit – one based in the nation’s capital.
“I have selected the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit to accept the transfer and to exercise the powers of a judicial council with respect to the identified complaint and any pending or new complaints relating to the same subject matter,” Roberts said in a letter addressed to the D.C. circuit’s chief judge that was posted on the 5th Circuit’s website.
It is only one of a handful of times in U.S. history that a federal circuit judge has been the subject of a public judicial misconduct complaint and a formal disciplinary review. Normally such matters are secret under federal law…. Chief Justice Roberts’ letter, dated June 12, reports that the reassignment of the judicial misconduct complaint against Jones to jurists in Washington, D.C., came in response to a request for transfer from the current Chief Judge of the 5th Circuit, Carl E. Stewart.
What’s more, this news comes a day after Ian Millhiser reported, “In a likely sign that the court is taking the complaint seriously, a panel that includes both Jones and the court’s Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart just ordered a death penalty case transferred to another panel…. [T]his court’s order may simply rest on the idea that a panel of three judges, one of whom is currently standing in judgment of the other and a third who has a history of tension with the second, is not likely to give the impression of impartial decision making.”