The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission has charged a black circuit court judge with six counts of misconduct for a series of racially charged public comments.
The charges largely stem from a months-long public feud between Jefferson Circuit Judge Olu Stevens and Commonwealth Attorney Thomas Wine, who is white.
Stevens has dismissed two juries in criminal cases with African-American defendants because they lacked black representation. After Wine asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to rule on whether Stevens had the authority to dismiss a jury because of its racial makeup, the judge claimed Wine was “advocating” for white juries.
The commission found that Stevens violated judicial canons when he alleged in a Facebook posting that Wine is a racist who wants “all-white juries.” The commission also found he violated the rules when he publicly called defense attorneys “hypocrites” for not taking his side.
A hearing is scheduled for April 19, when the commission will decide whether Stevens should be temporarily suspended.
Stevens’ lawyer, Larry Wilder, said he is a “passionate man” who believed he was fulfilling his legal obligations by speaking out.
Last week, WDRB reported that Stevens has filed a federal lawsuit against the commission, alleging they had violated his First Amendment rights by saying they intended to sanction him.