Harris County District Judge Michael McSpadden is in for a rude awakening as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) calls for an open investigation following his comments toward young, black defendants in his courtroom.
The gag is that for over a decade most of the judges in Harris County have stacked the odds against blacks by instructing their magistrates to deny no cash bail to all newly arrested defendants. The Houston Chronicle caught wind of those documents detailing the judge's remarks toward black people:
"The young black men - and it's primarily young black men rather than young black women - charged with felony offenses, they're not getting good advice from their parents," he said. "Who do they get advice from? Rag-tag organizations like Black Lives Matter, which tell you, 'Resist police,' which is the worst thing in the world you could tell a young black man ... They teach contempt for the police, for the whole justice system."
The ACLU, a national organization that works daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, is making an effort to clean up our judicial system by hopefully getting McSpadden to step down. The ACLU of Texas is also calling for McSpadden’s recusal in any case involving a black defendant until the investigation ends.
In a story reported by News Fix, the ACLU is calling on the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct to take action.
“If there remained any doubt that the deck is stacked against people of color in our criminal justice system, Michael McSpadden just dispelled it,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “When a sitting judge feels comfortable enough to admit openly and on the record that he uses bail orders to jail black defendants on the assumption they can’t be trusted, it’s time to take action. This kind of flagrant racism has no place in our justice system. The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct needs to take the first step toward rooting it out, and Judge McSpadden should voluntarily step down.”
These violations are happening across the nation. Anthony Graves, a man exonerated after spending over 18 years in prison, 12 on death row, said it perfectly:
“Black men have always been overwhelmingly and disproportionately targeted for punishment by the police and the courts for no reason other than the color of our skin. If our justice system ever hopes to live up to the ideals that are supposed to guide it, we have to stamp out everywhere this sort of unfairness, injustice and inequality that black defendants face in courtrooms like Judge McSpadden’s."
Anthony Graves is a smart justice initiatives manager for the ACLU of Texas and author of the recently released Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement, and 12 Years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul.
How's that for justice?