OK

So Edith Jones, a federal judge for the 5th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals decided to go to UPenn Law School and give a nice little speech to our nation's budding scholars. Some of her nuggets of wisdom for the next generation:

Among her statements:

 That certain “racial groups like African Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime,” are “'prone' to commit acts of violence,” and get involved in more violent and “heinous” crimes than people of other ethnicities;
That Mexican nationals would prefer to be on death row in the United States rather than serving prison terms in Mexico, and it is an insult for the United States to look to the laws of other countries such as Mexico;

That Defendants' claims of racism, innocence, arbitrariness, and violations of international law and treaties are really nothing more than “red herrings” used by opponents of capital punishment;

That claims of “mental retardation” by capital defendants disgust her, and the fact such persons were convicted of a capital crime is itself sufficient to prove they are not in fact “mentally retarded”; and

That the imposition of a death sentence provides a positive service to capital-case defendants because defendants are likely to make peace with God only in the moment before their imminent execution.

According to the article a broad based coalition of civil rights groups, law professors and even the mexican government have filed a complaint against Jones.  The rules for the 5th Circuit seem to allow a lot of wiggle room.  The operative language supports a finding of judicial misconduct when:

conduct occurring outside the performance of official duties if the conduct
might have a prejudicial effect on the administration of the business of the
courts, including a substantial and widespread lowering of public confidence in
the courts among reasonable people.
That is a pretty tough standard to be pigeon holed into and it seems to allow a lot of discretion.  Then again, Jones' comments were very repugnant, and seem to directly state a prejudice against many different categories of litigants who are likely to be before the court in the future.

You may also be wondering who gets to decide on this complaint.  Based on my reading, the rules the chief judge is charged with reviewing the complaint (who was Jones, up until recently.  Jones apparently relinquished her role as chief judge this past October, citing family problems).   The judge can either convene a special committee, dismiss the complaint on the merits, or conclude it has been rendered moot by voluntary corrective action or intervening events.   It does also appear as if there is some judicial review of the chief judge and the special committee's  decision either way, however.

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