An Alabama judge has been suspended after an ethics commission accused him of mocking an Asian juror, referring to the 77-year-old governor as “MeMaw,” telling defendants they would be sexually assaulted in prison, and repeatedly cursing in his courtroom.
Mobile County’s 13th Circuit Judge James T. Patterson, a Republican who was elected in 2016, was suspended last month following a complaint from the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the state agency charged with investigating complaints against Alabama judges.
The complaint, made public on Wednesday, details Patterson’s inappropriate behavior over the course of several years, including an incident in 2019 when he asked a jury pool that included an Asian American if everyone spoke “Engrish,” mocking an Asian accent.
Patterson characterized his comment to the jury pool as a “stupid, stupid joke.”
“The liberals call everyone they disagree with a racist nowadays,” Patterson wrote on his Facebook page following his racist comment. “I am nothing of the kind.”
Patterson also made references to defendants being sexually assaulted in prison.
“When covering a docket for the presiding judge, Judge Patterson said more than once to defendants that they would be ‘butt raped in the penitentiary,’” the complaint said.
The judge also mocked Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, 77, by calling her “Governor MeMaw” over the governor’s decision to issue a stay-at-home order at the start of the pandemic.
Patterson’s former court reporter, along with an assistant district attorney, told the commission that the judge often used inappropriate language in the courtroom, and on at least one occasion made the mother of a defendant cry.
“In court, Judge Patterson has used the following words: ‘f*ck,’ ‘sh*t,’ ‘bast*ard,’ ‘a*s,’ and ‘a*shole,” the complaint said. “According to his former court reporter, Judge Patterson used the word ‘a*s’ all the time in court as if it was his favorite word.”
The commission charged Patterson with inappropriate demeanor and temperament and abuse of judicial authority. He could potentially be removed from office, according to The Associated Press.
“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.