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Alabama judge suspended for mocking Asian accent in courtroom

An Alabama judge was suspended after he allegedly mocked an Asian accent in the courtroom and repeatedly belittled Gov. Kay Ivey, referring to her as “Governor MeMaw.”

Mobile County’s 13th Circuit Judge James T. Patterson, a Republican who was elected in 2016, has faced backlash from staffers and court reporters.

They reported that his behavior on the bench was bad enough to erode faith in the judicial system, according to a complaint filed in mid-June by the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission.




He was suspended late last month and was charged with inappropriate demeanor and abuse of judicial authority.

“Judge Patterson’s conduct has degraded the public’s confidence in the integrity, dignity, and decorum of the judiciary and brought the judicial office into disrepute,” the complaint said.

When addressing potential jurors in August 2019, commission investigators say Patterson mocked an Asian accent and asked if everyone spoke English after he saw an Asian American in the group.



The judge later released a statement in which he apologized and addressed his “direct” manner of speaking.

“The liberals call everyone they disagree with a racist nowadays,” the statement said. “I am nothing of the kind.”

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association denounced Patterson’s racism in a statement.

“Judges hold positions of great responsibility and Judge Patterson’s comments and actions mocking a jurist’s accent are inappropriate,” executive director Priya Purandare said.

“We expect judges to uphold the highest standard of conduct as they sit at the pinnacle of our legal system, but this incident perpetuates harmful stereotypes about Asian communities and contributes to the distrust of the impartiality of our legal system.”