Court judges Alabama judge accused of racist and sexist comments must be removed from office
Alabama estates judge accused of making racist and sexist comments and fostering hostile work environment must be removed from office, state judicial ethics tribunal said Friday in a rare and unanimous decision.
In sanctioning Talladega County Estates Judge Randy Jinks, the Alabama Judicial Court wrote that he had violated several of the Canons of State Judicial Ethics, guidelines ordering judges to uphold the honor of the judiciary, maintain decorum and avoid irregularities.
The decision to discipline Jinks, 65, comes after a multi-day hearing this month that included testimony, as well as character witnesses called by defense attorney for Jinks, including the former governor of the Alabama, Bob Riley. Among the evidence presented in court was a recording of Jinks rehearsing a meme in his office on nationwide racial unrest in 2020 in which he said: “You son of b —— are going to need some something to burn after Trump is re-elected for a second term, son of b ——. “
“Although the complaint alleges’ racially insensitive behavior ‘, this Court is of the opinion that Judge Jinks’ conduct has gone beyond racial insensitivity,” said the court in its final judgment, which also sentenced Jinks to pay the costs of the procedure.
Jinks had been suspended since the spring following more than 100 allegations first described in a 78-page document published in March by the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the state body that first examines complaints against judges. The commission then decides to take the case to the Court of Justice, a panel of judges, lawyers and lay people appointed by the governor’s office.
The commission’s complaint detailed accusations of racist and sexist conversations that employees claim they initiated by Jinks, including talking about pornography and a video of a woman doing a striptease. Some of the employees alleged that Jinks, who is white, also made derogatory remarks about George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, the blacks who entered the office and the only black employee in the office, a clerk.
This employee, Darrius Pearson, had testified that in May 2019 when Jinks saw his new car he said that as a judge he couldn’t afford one but asked, “What- what are you doing, selling drugs?
Upon hearing of the court’s decision on Friday, Pearson said: “My heart skipped a beat,” adding that it was “important” to hold the judge to account.
Employees also accused Jinks of using profane language and tantrums, once in a tirade after his sandwich disappeared from a refrigerator, and of trying to use the power of his position to obtain or grant favors.
Jinks was not charged with making offensive statements while presiding from the bench, but rather in the office, in the workplace and among employees. The Court of Justice also found that Jinks did not violate the rules of ethics in all of the allegations made in the complaint.
As an Estates Judge, Jinks has been the county’s primary election official, overseeing adoptions and guardianship, mental health engagements, and marriage licensing. He was elected an estates judge on the Republican ticket for a six-year term in November 2018. He has no legal training, which is not a requirement for estates judges in almost all counties in the United States. ‘Alabama.
Amanda Hardy, Jinks’ lawyer, said in a statement on Saturday that he had never been accused of being a racist before, but “once he entered politics and became the first Republican to occupy this position post, everything has changed “.
“Judge Jinks’ remarks have been taken completely out of context and cast in a light calculated to smear the character of the judge and further, the accusing employees are trying to remove him from office,” Hardy said, adding that “a Further scrutiny should have led to a more measured response to this case. “
In a TV interview in March, Jinks denied the allegations.
“I’m not saying I didn’t make any mistakes, but the majority of these vicious, vile and vulgar accusations are nothing to fear,” he said. says WOTM-TV. “They can say whatever they want, they can’t hurt me.”
Hardy said Jinks decided to appeal the decision to the Alabama Supreme Court. It is extremely unusual for judges in Alabama to be removed from their posts. It happened to Roy Moore, a former chief justice of the state, who was ousted twice for defying Federal Court orders. Moore’s appeals were dismissed.