An Alabama probate judge accused of making racist and sexist statements and promoting a hostile work environment must be removed from office, the state’s Judicial Ethics Court He said Friday in Nader unanimous ruling.
In punishing probate judge Randy Jenks of Talladega County, the Alabama District Court wrote that he violated many of the State laws for judicial ethicsGuidelines directing judges to respect the honor of the judiciary, maintain decency and avoid wrongdoing.
The decision to discipline Jenks, 65, follows a multi-day hearing this month that included witness testimony, as well as personal witnesses called by Jenks’ defense attorneys, including former Alabama Governor Bob Riley. Among the evidence presented to the court was a recording of Jenks repeating a meme in his office about the racial unrest that swept the country in 2020 in which he said, “You sons of B—— you’re going to need something to burn after. Trump re-elected for a second term, sons NS —— “.
“Although the complaint alleges ‘racial insensitivity’, this court holds that Judge Jenks’ conduct went beyond racial insensitivity,” the court said in its final ruling, which also ordered Jenks to pay the costs of the lawsuit.
Jinks has been suspended since spring following more than 100 allegations first identified in a Document of 78 pages It was issued in March by the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the government body that first looks at complaints against judges. The committee then decides whether to take the case before the Court of Justice, a panel of judges, lawyers and non-lawyers appointed by the governor’s office.
The commission’s complaint detailed accusations of racist and sexist conversations that employees allegedly initiated by the Jinks, including talk of pornography and a video of a woman wearing a striptease. Some employees alleged that Jenks, who is white, also made derogatory remarks about George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, blacks who came into the office and the office’s only black employee, a clerk.
That employee, Darius Pearson, testified that in May 2019, when Jenks saw his new car, he said he, as a judge, couldn’t buy one, but asked, “What are you doing, selling drugs?”
Upon learning of the court’s decision on Friday, Pearson said, “My heart skipped a beat,” adding that it was “important” to hold the judge accountable.
The staff also accused the Jinks of using vulgar language and throwing tantrums, once he went to a sermon after a sandwich disappeared from the fridge, and that he tried to use the power of his position to solicit or grant favors.
Jenks was not accused of making offensive remarks while on the podium but rather in the office, in the workplace and among employees. The Judicial Court also found that Jinks did not violate ethical guidelines in every claim made in the complaint.
As a probate judge, Jenks was the county’s chief election official, overseeing adoptions and guardianships, mental health obligations and the issuance of marriage licenses. He was elected as a probate judge on the Republican ticket for six years in November 2018. He has no legal background, which is not a requirement for probate judges in nearly all counties in Alabama.
Jenks’ attorney, Amanda Hardy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday, but she told NBC News in May that the initial complaint was “fabricated by a few disgruntled employees” and that any allegations that Jenks was racist were “fabricated to provoke hostility.” The public, the court of justice, and the media.”
In a TV interview in March, Jenks denied the allegations.
“I do not say that I have done nothing wrong, but the majority of these wicked, sordid and vulgar accusations are nothing to fear,” WOTM-TV said. “They can say whatever they want, they can’t hurt me.”
It was not clear if Jenks intended to appeal. It is highly unusual for judges in Alabama to be removed from the bench. It happened to Roy Moore, the former state chief justice, who was ousted twice for defying federal court orders. Moore’s appeals were denied.