State Judge Sues Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission

Judge Olu Stevens, an African-American jurist in Jefferson County, Kentucky, filed a lawsuit on Friday against the state Judicial Conduct Commission, contending it intends to punish him in violation of his First Amendment rights, according to a WDRB report.

As Gavel Grab mentioned in January, Stevens is facing disciplinary action for discussing the issue of all-white juries on his Facebook page.  According to reports, Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., in referring the case to the disciplinary body, wrote that Stevens “appears to flout the directives of the Code of Judicial Conduct, creating a social-media firestorm calculated to aggrandize himself by exploiting the deep-seated and widespread distrust of the criminal-justice system by minority communities.”

In the lawsuit, according to WDRB, Stevens said Kentucky “has a history of racism within its criminal justice system and jury selection system” and a lack of jury diversity has “remained unaddressed” by prosecutors.

A New York Daily News column by Shaun King was headlined, “Black Kentucky judge’s career has been assaulted since he spoke out against racism.”

The Judicial Conduct Commission chairman said Stevens was not notified of impending punishment, only about a hearing.