Chief Justice Recuses Circuit Judge Olu Stevens

Paragraph 31 on Page 14 of the attached affidavit provides a summary of our position on this issue:

31. To be sure, my decision to seek certification of law is not motivated by any desire to seat all-white juries or to exclude African Americans or other minorities from jury service.  In Mr. Doss’s case, the Commonwealth did not strike any African American juror.  The Court, by random selection, struck the lone African American juror.  Then, Judge Stevens dismissed the entire panel of properly qualified jurors because of that random strike.  My decision to seek certification of law is motivated by a desire for the law to be clear to judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants, victims, witnesses, and potential jurors and for there to be uniformity amongst the courts.  Importantly, the questions certified include not only whether striking a jury panel that includes only white jurors, by no action of the prosecution or defense, is correct, but also-if such a dismissal is correct, how additional jury selection should proceed.  That Judge Stevens has presumed and proceeded to tell the world through social media that my actions were dictated by discriminatory attitudes, not only offends me, but leads me to reasonably conclude that Judge Stevens cannot be fair and impartial on cases in which I or my assistants are involved.

As explained by Justice Frankfurter:

The judicial process demands that a judge move within the framework of relevant legal rules and the covenanted modes of thought for ascertaining them. He must think dispassionately and submerge private feeling on every aspect of a case. There is a good deal of shallow talk that the judicial robe does not change the man within it. It does. The fact is that on the whole judges do lay aside private views in discharging their judicial functions. This is achieved through training, professional habits, self-discipline and that fortunate alchemy by which men are loyal to the obligation with which they are entrusted. But it is also true that reason cannot control the subconscious influence of feelings of which it is unaware. When there is ground for believing that such unconscious feelings may operate in the ultimate judgment, or many not unfairly lead others to believe they are operating, judges recuse themselves. They do not sit in judgment. They do this for a variety of reasons. The guiding consideration is the administration of justice should reasonably appear to be disinterested as well as be so in fact.

For the full affidavit of Mr. Wine, click here [11MB PDF].