Racists come in all forms. As incidents of hate against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community increase, individuals have been more open to reporting. In addition to reporting incidents of violence by strangers, reports of officials perpetuating stereotypes and hate have also risen. In a recent incident, an Alabama judge was suspended following a complaint filed June 15 by the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission accusing him of racial discrimination and other inappropriate behavior.
According to the complaint, Judge James T. Patterson not only referred to Gov. Kay Ivey as "Governor MeMaw" on multiple occasions to both attorneys and court staff, but also referred to the Alabama state prison system as "Governor MeMaw's prison system." But that’s not all—the complaint also alleged that Patterson mocked the accent of an Asian juror in the courtroom amongst other inappropriate comments.
The complaint noted that on several occasions that his behavior was bad enough to erode faith in the judicial system, NBC News reported. While Patterson was suspended last month and charged with inappropriate demeanor and abuse of judicial authority, the complaint was made public Wednesday in an NBC News report.
“Judge Patterson’s conduct has degraded the public’s confidence in the integrity, dignity, and decorum of the judiciary and brought the judicial office into disrepute,” the complaint said.
While the complaint focused on several incidents, it highlighted his use of offensive language to describe the governor and language used toward AAPI community members. The comment directed at the juror was reported to have been made in 2019, during which Patterson inappropriately addressed a jury pool that included Asian Americans. Imitating a stereotypical accent, he allegedly asked the jury if they spoke “Engrish.”
Of course, when called out for his actions, he took to defend them and issued a nonapology on social media, claiming his language was only “direct”.
"The liberals call everyone they disagree with a racist nowadays," Patterson wrote on his Facebook page, according to the complaint. "I am nothing of the kind."
Other histories of name-calling and use of foul language included comments made in his courtroom that were seen as demeaning to others.
In one instance Patterson allegedly made sexually inappropriate comments in his courtroom, telling a defendant during a probation revocation hearing, "You don't want to be somebody's girlfriend when you go up the road.” According to the complaint, the joke referred to sexual assault in prison.
Patterson allegedly made sexual assault jokes on multiple occasions and even called a presiding judge a “goddamn snowflake.”
According to the complaint, on several occasions, Patterson was made aware of how his remarks came off, yet would continue using them in discussions with staff and lawyers. He referred to them as “stupid joke[s].”
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association issued a statement in response to Pattersons’ racism.
“Judges hold positions of great responsibility and Judge Patterson’s comments and actions mocking a jurist’s accent are inappropriate,” Executive Director Priya Purandare said. “We expect judges to uphold the highest standard of conduct as they sit at the pinnacle of our legal system, but this incident perpetuates harmful stereotypes about Asian communities and contributes to the distrust of the impartiality of our legal system.”
At this time, Patterson is only suspended. If convicted of his charges by the Court of the Judiciary, he could face penalties as severe as removal from office.
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