An Alabama judge accused of making numerous racist and sexist remarks and fostering a hostile work environment is now being forced to give up his seat at the bench by a state judicial ethics panel.
Erik Ortiz of NBC News reported that “in sanctioning Probate Judge Randy Jinks of Talladega County, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary wrote that he had violated several of the state’s Canons of Judicial Ethics, guidelines directing judges to uphold the honor of the judiciary, maintain decorum and avoid impropriety.”
According to Ortiz, “the decision to discipline Jinks, 65, comes after a multiday hearing this month that included witness testimony, as well as character witnesses called by Jinks’ defense lawyer, including former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. Among the evidence presented to the court was a recording of Jinks repeating a meme in his office about the nationwide racial unrest in 2020 in which he said, ‘You sons of b—— are going to need something to burn down after Trump gets re-elected for a second term, sons of b——.’”
In their statement, the ethics panel said, “although the complaint alleges ‘racially insensitive demeanor,’ this Court is of the opinion that Judge Jinks’ conduct rose above racial insensitivity.”
In addition to losing his court position, Jinks will be forced to pay for the cost of the court proceeding against him.
Jinks was suspended from the bench in spring 2021, following more than 100 allegations levied against him in a 78-page document issued by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission.
“The commission’s complaint detailed accusations of racist and sexist conversations that employees claim Jinks initiated, including talking about pornography and a video of a woman doing a striptease,” Ortiz reported. “Some of the employees alleged that Jinks, who is white, also made disparaging remarks about George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, Black people who came into the office and the office’s sole Black employee, a clerk.”
In court testimony, that clerk — Darrius Pearson — confirmed many of the allegations against Jinks, including one instance where the judge had seen Pearson’s new car, wondered how he could afford it, and then said to the man, “what [are] you doing, selling drugs?”
Other employees working for the judge said that in addition to his racial tirades, he frequently used profane language, threw tantrums, and used his position of power to curry favors from individuals.
For his defense, Jinks’ attorney Amanda Hardy claimed that her client was not a racist, saying his remarks had simply been misinterpreted.
“Judge Jinks’ remarks were taken completely out of context and cast in a light calculated to besmirch the judge’s character and further the accusatory employees’ attempts to remove him from office,” Hardy said. She added that “closer scrutiny should have led to a more measured response to this case.”
In his role as state probate judge, Jinks was not only the county’s chief election official but also oversaw granting adoptions and guardianships, mental health commitments and the issuing of marriage licenses. He was elected to the position, which holds a six-year term, in November 2018.
Jinks and Hardy are now considering whether they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Alabama.