Another affidavit is from James M. McCormack, former chief disciplinary counsel for
the Texas bar, who said that based on the complaint, “it is my opinion that Judge
Jones violated the ethical standards applicable to federal judges under the Code of
Conduct for United States judges.”
Judge Jones is alleged to have said that the defenses often offered in capital cases,
including mental retardation and systemic racism, were “red herrings.” She also said,
according to the witnesses, that Mexicans would prefer to be on death row in theUnited States rather than in prison in Mexico.
Charles W. Wolfram, one of the country’s experts in legal ethics who is retired fromCornell Law School, said Judge Jones’s alleged statements were a cause of great
“If I were a parent of a black with borderline IQ accused in a capital case, would I bedistressed in knowing that Judge Jones was sitting on my case?” he asked in atelephone interview. “Yes, I would. She seems to have made up her mind on these
e is slanted. That is the whole point of the impartiality requirement.”
Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics scholar at New York University, said that if JudgeJones really did say that death penalties serve the condemned by forcing them to faceGod, that was troubling.
“If a judge were to say that during sentencing, that sentence would be vacated,” hesaid. “It suggests that she believes she is helping the accused by giving a deathsentence. That is totally inappropriate.” He said the central question concern
ing her alleged statements about race and crime depended heavily on tone and context.
The fate of the complaint now lies with the circuit’s chief judge, Carl E. Stewart of
Louisiana, the first black in the job. He could dismiss it, speak privately with JudgeJones or order an investigation and set up a committee of judges either in his circuit or another one. Most complaints against judges, many of which come from inmates, aredismissed.
A version of this article appeared in print on June 5, 2013, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: Complaint Accuses U.S. Judge in Texas of Racial Bias.