‘Fat N—-r’; 500 people petition to disbar chief criminal judge for racial slur

NAACP, Southern Law Center speak out

A petition to disbar and unseat Louisiana Judge Michael Ervin has garnered more than 500 signatures in less than 12 hours. Created Wednesday, Feb. 7 on change.org, the petition is addressed to the Louisiana Bar Association and recounts an argument between Erwin and Kaneitra Johnson as reported by Thelisia S. Davis of The Rouge Collection.

On Friday, Feb. 3, Erwin, who is a state district judge in District 19, allegedly lashed out at Johnson while eating out at Sammy’s Grill in Zachary. According to the petition, Erwin reacted to Johnson sharing a seat with a Lyft driver. She said he told the driver to “never give a seat to a n – – – -r then referred to her as “fat n – – – -r  a- -”.  An argument ensued. East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff were called to the restaurant for the disturbance but no arrests were made. Since then, restaurant owner Sammy Nagem and manager Andy McKay said the restaurant will refuse Erwin’s business. Johnson said she did not know Erwin as a sitting judge at the time of the incident.

(Read the “Fire Judge Mike Erwin now!” petition.)

“We should expect more from our leaders, and words do matter,” said Ernest Johnson. “Certain officials using those types of derogatory terms” should be held accountable to a higher standard. “It’s troublesome, but we want to wait and see what (the judge) has to say about it.”

Erwin presides over adult crime persecutions and criminal cases. He is also chief judge of the 19th judicial district, division L. He was first elected to the 19th court in 1990 and was re-elected in 2014. His term expires December 2020. He is a 1979 graduate of the Southern University Law Center and has been an assistant district attorney and assistant city prosecutor in East Baton Rouge.

The change.org petition has been signed by supporters from across the state and nationally from Maryland, Illinois, Washington, and Colorado.

From Georgia, Regina Miller wrote, “this man has been allowed to decide the fate of those that are members of this race and he cannot be considered fair and impartial when displaying a racist.”

“He showed his TRUE feelings. That being said I wonder how many people of color (have) been unfairly judged by this racist,” wrote Pamela Barlow of Baton Rouge.

“Someone with these racist views has no right to be ruling on the outcome of trials and people’s lives,” wrote Bonnie Armstead of Gilbertsville, PA.

“Judges are supposed to be fair and impartial. Justice is supposed to be blind. He neither represents the core embodiment of justice and the law. He needs to be removed,” wrote NeKwan Perkins of Baton Rouge.

“We cannot have biased bigoted, racist judges serving any community in the United State of America,” wrote Wendy Ascosta of Beverly Hills, CA.

“Mike Erwin’s reprehensible racist language makes him ill fit to preside over cases with impartiality. We deserve better from our judges and he is not it,” wrote Donney Rose of Baton Rouge.

From Bethesda, MD, Phaedra Elliott wrote, “I’m signing because the judge who oversees a predominately Black community shouldn’t be so flippantly racist. He needs to be removed from his seat. There is no telling how his visceral hatred of Black (people) clouded his judgment.”

The petition also encourages signers to file a complaint with The Judiciary Commission of Louisiana Office of Special Counsel by completing a form online https://www.lasc.org/la_judicial_entities/documents/Judicial_Complaint_Form.pdf

Although unprompted, petitioners have called on Southern University Law Center Chancellor John Pierre to remove Erwin’s photo from the corridor of the center where successful graduates’ photos hang.

“The Southern University Law Center family is saddened and disappointed by the media reports that Judge Michael Erwin (’79) made hurtful and racist remarks to a member of our community. We expect all judges to live by the code of conduct they were sworn to uphold, and we remain committed to the instilling in our students the values of equality, justice, and respect,” posted officials on Facebook, Wednesday night.

Since the story appeared on The Rouge Collection, local and national media have reported on the incident. Erwin has not responded.

“At some point you think the judge would respond,” said radio host Jim Engster. “The longer this drags out, the tougher it will be on Judge Ervin and the community.”

“It’s a situation that requires an immediate response…This would raise a lot of question of impartiality for any person going before the judge,” said the NAACP president.

By Candace J. Semien
Jozef Syndicate reporter

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