George Floyd’s Death, Racism, and Police Brutality
I have not commented publicly about the protests related to George Floyd’s death, racism, and police brutality because I didn’t want to politicize either recent tragedy or this important movement. But I do think voters should know where I stand, and where I stand is with the protesters. Black lives matter. The progress we are beginning to see makes me hopeful that real change may be coming. As you know, much of the harm being protested occurs before cases make it to a judge, and I recognize that we all as a community and a society need to step up and do our part to put an end to systemic racism and oppression.
There are things that a judge can do to make sure the playing field is level in court. The first is making sure every defendant has competent counsel. We know that people of color in Syracuse are disproportionately in poverty, which means they are more likely to have an assigned attorney. I will only assign attorneys who are competent and who fight for their clients. And if a lawyer isn’t cutting it, I will remove them and assign a new lawyer. Additionally, if it ever appears that offers for defendants are different based on factors such as race, I will immediately call that out and demand an explanation. I also pledge to work to address implicit bias in all aspects of our criminal justice center. And just like with any change, one has to start with himself. In the last few years I have challenged myself to examine my own perceptions, challenge my own beliefs, and work toward raising anti-racist children.
Anyone who has appeared before me knows that I treat everyone equally regardless of race, gender, or any other factor. This will be the standard I set for everyone in my courtroom. While judges must remain impartial in any particular case, I will continue to do the work for myself and stand with those looking to make more systemic change.