The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld the ouster of Talladega County Probate Judge Randy Jinks, who was removed from office after a court ruled he displayed sexually inappropriate behavior and racist conduct, including calling George Floyd “just another thug” after a Minnesota officer murdered him.
“After reviewing the record in this case, we conclude that the judgment of the COJ (Court of the Judiciary) is supported by clear and convincing evidence,” the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous opinion Friday.
Jinks had appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court after the COJ’s ruling in 2021 removing him from office.
The COJ had acted on a complaint by the Judicial Inquiry Commission that Jinks had:
- Displayed racist conduct when he asked an attorney – in the presence of a probate office employee – if he knew about an acronym for a racial epithet involving the “N word”
- Asked a probate employee who is Black if he was a drug dealer when the man purchased a new vehicle
- Made racist comments after Minneapolis police killed Floyd, a Black man whose death became a rallying point for protests nationally, including calling the victim “just another thug.” The original commission charges also stated Jinks said Floyd “pretty much got what he deserved.”
- Was overheard saying ‘Y’all got to quit burning shit down’ because ‘you will need something to burn down after Trump gets elected to a second term, sons of bitches’
- Showed a subordinate a sexually explicit video in the workplace
“Judge Jinks attacks much of the above discussed testimony, describing his comments as being exaggerated, taken out of context, or as not racist at all, because, he says, they were made with no racist intent. However, the COJ heard the testimony and observed the witnesses, and its factual findings based on ore tenus (orally presented) evidence are presumed correct if they are supported by clear and convincing evidence” according to the Alabama Supreme Court opinion.
“Judge Jinks argues that the sanction of removal in this case is not supported by clear and convincing evidence and that this Court should reject and reduce the sanction imposed,” the Alabama Supreme Court opinion states.
“The record indicates that Judge Jinks made multiple racist and racially insensitive comments, engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct, engaged in inappropriate acts of anger and use of profanity, and, on several occasions, used the prestige of his office for the benefit of others,” according to the ruling. “Those acts were not isolated but occurred on a number of occasions while Judge Jinks was in the probate office acting in his capacity as the probate judge. Those acts were numerous enough to establish a pattern of objectionable behavior on the part of Judge Jinks.”
The ruling also noted that Jinks had admitted on a television talk show to his comments regarding a racist acronym, “offering the excuse that it is not racist if he repeats something that he was told. Similarly, Judge Jinks admitted to showing an employee a sexually explicit video (involving partially nude women), but he sought to justify it by explaining that ‘it was two guys’ together. Based on the foregoing, the COJ’s sanction of the removal of Judge Jinks from office is supported by the clear and convincing evidence in the record.”
Amanda Hardy, attorney for Jinks, issued at statement Monday night stating that while they respect the Supreme Court’s decision they still believe the judgement was “inconsistent” with evidence at the trial.
“The system has been abused by a few individuals, and the Judicial Inquiry Commission’s prosecution and the Court of the Judiciary’s charging decisions now allows for great risks for all judges of all races and political parties in this state,” Hardy stated. “These governmental agencies have substantial power to discriminate based on the content or viewpoint of speech by suppressing disfavored speech or disliked speakers. There is a need for the legislature’s intervention.”
“As evidenced by this case, the Judicial Inquiry Commission has the ability to wield significant power over all the state’s duly elected judges based on political motivations, differences in legal interpretations, trivialities, speculation, and outright falsifies,” Hardy stated.
While affirming the removal of Jinks from office, the Alabama Supreme Court in its ruling did conclude that the sanctions imposed by the COJ in a case against a judge are reviewable by them, contrary to a ruling in a previous case.
“Judge Jinks not only sought justice for himself, but also protection for other judges in the state,” Hardy stated. “The Supreme Court took a step in doing so by overruling its previous cases allowing the Court of the Judiciary to be insulated from a review of its punitive measures imposed. While this new precedent will certainly help, we call on our legislation to do more. An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society, and that includes those who are charged with its oversight and enforcement.”
“I would like to remind the people that there is no attorney, no private citizen, no litigant or party to any case with a complaint or grievance made against Judge Jinks – only a few disgruntled accusatory employees,” Hardy stated. “It is important to emphasize that even the accusatory employees conceded under examination that Judge Jinks never treated any litigant, attorney, customer, or visitor differently because of his or her race and for anyone to suggest otherwise further causes disrepute to the judiciary.”
“Alongside my co-counsel Benita Jenkins, I would passionately fight this case a thousand times over, because I know without a doubt, we were on the right side.”