by G. Brown
Facebook photos and comments have come back to haunt more than one poster. Now a year and a half old FB post from Alabama Judge Greg Griffin is the reason a White police officer on trial for murder is using to have him removed from his case.
Griffin is presiding over the case of Montgomery police officer Aaron Smith who is charged in the shooting death of Gregory Gunn—an unarmed Black man. Lawyers in the case say the circumstances that led to the shooting are “eerily similar” to a situation the Judge experienced with some other White officers on the Montgomery P.D.
Judge Griffin shared with his five-thousand followers on Facebook a situation he endured April of last year. The Judge shared on his page about an unpleasant encounter with White officers who stopped him as he walked in his neighborhood. Judge Griffin says he was walking with a stick you see him holding in the photo when officers approached him claiming to be searching for a man who fit his description who was carrying a crowbar. Griffin wrote, “Throughout the ordeal the officers were courteous; however, it was aggravating to be detained when the only thing I was guilty of was being a black man walking down the street in his neighborhood with a stick in his hand who just happened to be a Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge in Montgomery, Alabama. Lord Have Mercy!!!!!” Lawyers say Judge Griffin’s ordeal may prevent him from being objective in the White police officer’s trial. Smith’s attorney wants Griffin to recuse himself from the case on the grounds that the Facebook post is in violation of judicial ethics rules which clearly state that judges should avoid “all impropriety and appearance of impropriety.”
It seems the judge is the one being judged here. In his Facebook posts, Judge Griffin was speaking up about an injustice that has been a common cry from the Black community. Just yesterday, TRN told you about Seattle Seahawks Michael Bennett who is considering a civil lawsuit against Las Vegas police. Bennett claims the officers stopped him as he and hundreds of people were fleeing a disturbance at a club. As Bennett kept asking police “What did I do?” they forced him to the ground and handcuffed him without giving reason. Bennett says one cop told him not to move and threatened to “blow my f*****g head off.’
Like Bennett, Judge Griffin says his only crime was being Black. Now, the judicial system is adding insult to injury by saying Griffin—a man sworn to uphold the laws of the state and country—can’t do his job objectively because of his color.
Judge Griffin has refused to recuse himself from the case saying the two situations are separate and have nothing to do with each other–“This is not a stop-and-search case. This is a murder case.” Griffin also said previously, “I’m a black judge. I can take this black robe off, but I can’t take off this black skin. I live in west Montgomery. I live in the hood. Should I recuse myself from every criminal case that has happened on the west side?” That’s a good question and several more come to mind–if Griffin has judged over countless cases before, why is his integrity, ability and objectivity being called into question this time? Have you ever heard of a female judge removing herself from a case because the accused is a male just like the male who mugged her one time?
Since Griffin has refused to step aside, the Alabama Supreme Court will have to decide, but it seems like justice is working overtime for the officer accused of killing an unarmed man and trying to protect his rights to make sure he is treated fairly. Meanwhile, injustice seems to be hard at work as well, condemning the judge who suffered indignity at the hands of White police officers and had the audacity to speak up about it.