A judge for the Mobile County Circuit Court in Alabama was suspended and charged with inappropriate demeanor and temperament based on multiple allegations, including a racially charged comment to a potential Asian American juror.
The Judicial Inquiry Commission, the state agency that investigates complaints against judges, accused Judge James Patterson of violating judicial ethics with his inappropriate remarks and repeated profanity in court.
The commission filed two charges, including inappropriate demeanor and temperament and abuse of judicial authority, against Patterson on June 15.
The allegations refer to his remarks about Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey. He reportedly referred to the 77-year-old as “Gov. MeMaw” in an order complaining about a stay-at-home order issued during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patterson allegedly used profanity while presiding over court sessions and also referred to another judge as a “godd*mn snowflake” in front of attorneys.
The complaint against him also states that Patterson made a racially charged comment in a mock Asian accent to a jury pool with at least one potential Asian American juror. He reportedly made an inappropriate remark about everyone in court being able to speak English when he saw the juror of Asian descent.
Patterson swiftly apologized to the jury pool for the inappropriate remark. He called his remark a “stupid, stupid joke,” and he denied any racism on social media.
The judge was also accused of making demeaning comments to defendants, which had caused a defendant’s mother to have an emotional outburst on one occasion.
“The liberals call everyone they disagree with a racist nowadays. I am nothing of the kind,” Patterson reportedly wrote in 2019, according to the commission’s complaint.
He also apologized to Ivey in a letter, calling his “Gov. MeMaw” remark “a poor attempt at humor in the midst of this Covid-19 mess.” However, he continued using the term in discussions with lawyers, according to investigators.
Patterson has not submitted a response to the commission charges. If he is convicted, the penalty may be as severe as removal from office.