Court upholds judges’ removal for racist, sexist comments

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld a decision removing a probate judge from office who was accused of racist and sexually inappropriate behavior that included showing an explicit video to an employee and making inappropriate comments after George Floyd’s murder by a police officer.

The justices last week unanimously upheld the 2021 decision by the Court of the Judiciary — a disciplinary panel that hears complaints against judges — to remove Randy Jinks as Talladega County probate judge.

“The record indicates that Judge Jinks made multiple racist and racially insensitive comments, engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct, engaged in inappropriate acts of anger and use of profanity,” justices wrote.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary, the panel tasked with hearing ethics complaints against judges, last year ruled that Jinks failed to uphold the integrity and independence of the court system. The initial complaint against Jinks included that he made derogatory comments about women and African Americans, including references to Floyd, whose death sparked nationwide protests.

The panel ruled that there was clear and convincing evidence that Jinks had displayed inappropriate behavior that included showing an explicit video to an employee; asking an attorney if he knew of an acronym involving a racial slur; asking a Black employee if he was selling drugs after he purchased a new car; and other inappropriate comments.

Jinks denied most of the claims and blamed workers for misinterpreting jokes. He appealed the decision, but the Supreme Court ruled there was evidence to support his removal from office.

“Those acts were not isolated but occurred on a number of occasions while Judge Jinks was in the probate office acting in his capacity as the probate judge. Those acts were numerous enough to establish a pattern of objectionable behavior on the part of Judge Jinks,” the court wrote.

Amanda Hardy, an attorney representing Jinks, issued a statement saying they respect the decision but “believe the judgement was inconsistent with the evidence adduced at trial.”

“The system has been abused by a few individuals, and the Judicial Inquiry Commission’s prosecution and the Court of the Judiciary’s charging decisions now allows for great risks for all judges of all races and political parties in this state,” Hardy wrote in an email.

Her statement added: “These governmental agencies have substantial power to discriminate based on the content or viewpoint of speech by suppressing disfavored speech or disliked speakers.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.