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L.A. County judge admonished for making Ku Klux Klan remark in case involving African Americans

Click to read the admonishment A Los Angeles County criminal judge who made a remark referencing the Ku Klux Klan in a case involving two African American defendants was publicly admonished Wednesday by a state agency overseeing judges' discipline.

Judge Harvey Giss of the San Fernando courthouse made the comments last July during an off-the-record discussion with attorneys about a possible plea agreement in the case, according to the state Commission on Judicial Performance.

DOCUMENT: Read the public admonishment

Neither of the defendants were present, but a family member was in the courtroom, according to the commission. Giss told the commission he remarked that the only thing that would make the defendants agree to a plea was for the judge to "come out in a white sheet and a pointy white hat," according to the panel's statement of facts.

Two days later, when the defense asked the judge to recuse himself because of the remark, Giss conceded that he had made a "bad statement" but said, "People don't have a sense of humor anymore," according to the statement of facts.

Giss, a former deputy district attorney who has been on the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench since April 2001, eventually withdrew from the case.

The commission concluded that the judge’s comments constituted failure to refrain from speech that could be perceived as bias or prejudice, failure to be dignified and courteous to litigants and lawyers, and failure to avoid impropriety.

"Judge Giss should have known that his insensitive courtroom reference to a history of violence towards persons of the defendants' ancestry, whether intended to make a valid point regarding his role as a judge or in jest, was offensive and inappropriate," the commission found.

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Comments () | Archives (13)

... where is his resignation letter? ... if the judge had any sense of honor, he would resign.

Harvey Giss should be kicked off the bench and disbarred.

Not surprising this incident happen because that is the attitude of how minorities are looked at by those in authority. That is the reason why minorities catch cases and then 20 years later they are found that they were not guilty in the 1st place......Oh yeah God Bless America....smh

oh whatever, this shouldnt even be news... hes right... people dont have a sense of humor and take everything to the next level...

The fact that this was an off the record remark should n't make this a big deal!

this idiot can be considered un biased from this point??? disbar the scumbag!!!

"Neither of the defendants were present"

Oops! Think you mean "Neither of the defendants was present"

Perhaps he was remarking on the defendants lack of legal understanding of the evidence stacked against them and their hard-headedness about going for the plea deal. There are no actual facts about the case or the context in which the remark was used, thus, I can only conclude the previous commentators don't care about the facts and are at a rush to condemn anyone for even referencing the KKK. I sure hope you people never work on a jury, or have a job where your opinion actually matters.

So now this is the way to remove people from various job positions. Was this realy a case of slander aginst the men charged. Yes the judge may have been out of line in his comment but what about the history of the two defendants? Does it equate? What was the criminal history of the defendants and does it equal the time that the judge has served on the bench serving the community.

Another fine example of institutional racism. It's no different than being pulled over for driving while black.

The only way we're ever going to get rid of it is to get rid of judges like this who make such stupid comments.

If he had any decency, he'd resign.

What are the defendants charged with? Are they child killers, serial rapists, bank robbers, car thieves - WHAT? It would help to have some contrast before the prosecutor is crucified for comments that may have been reported out of context. Maybe the defendants are the KKK members! Before everyone starts falling all over themselves to "protect the rights" these CRIMINAL defendants, let us see what they were "alleged to have done". Another out-of-context report. Gee, imagine that from a Murdoch-owned newspaper!

Will someone be investigating all cases where minorities appeared before Giss - who should definitely be removed from the bench.

A few weeks ago a judge, during a court session, said he was tired of defendants coming into his court room with names that were not consistent with the names on file - specifically saying, "especially with Hispanics, now I'm not saying all Hispanics have this problem but it is mostly Hispanics that have this problem."

My only thought: Most people that plead guilty in your courtroom are minorities, what does that mean? That minorities are most of the time guilty of their accused deeds? What, because this problem mostly arises, in your view, with Hispanics then ......you are going to treat Hispanics with more caution?

Clearly the judge did not think his comment through.


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