What's Not Funny? A Judge "Joking" About the Ku Klux Klan.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Harvey Giss thinks "[p]eople don't have a sense of humor anymore," when it comes to kidding around about the Ku Klux Klan, according to the LA Times. Details of an off-the-record discussion between Giss and attorneys from July 2010 are surfacing, and yesterday the judge "was publicly admonished" by the state's Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP).Per the CJP's release, Giss joined a discussion about a possible plea deal with two African American defendants, believing "counsel wished him to intercede and explain the potential benefits of the plea," which he felt he would not be able to do successfully. Giss then "made a remark to the effect that he guessed that the only thing that would make the defendants plead was for the judge to come out in a white sheet and a pointy white hat, which the judge indicated he would not do." (As the CJP thoughtfully points out, that remark "referenced the Ku Klux Klan and the fact that both defendants were African-American.")
Hilarious and appropriate, right? Not so much. Giss was asked by the defense to be recused, then admitted he made a "bad statement," adding the aforementioned gem about people lacking a sense of humor.
The CJP says Giss' remark was "insensitive," and constituted a failure to refrain from speech that would reasonably be perceived as bias or prejudice," citing violations on the judge's part of a handful of Judicial Ethics canons.
The Commission found that Judge Giss should have kno
Giss ultimately withdrew from the case and it went before another judge. After the admonishment was released, Giss' attorney said his client "regrets that the comment was made," and that the remark was both "unfortunate" and "in jest."