Statement on the Death of George Floyd

“It is only when the community has confidence in the integrity and capacity of the judiciary that the community is governed by the rule of law.”

- Commentary on the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, 2007.

It is 8:46 p.m.

Today, I am joining judges and court systems throughout the United States that have issued statements in response to the eight minutes and forty six seconds that forced our nation to reckon with four hundred years of systemic racial inequality and oppression.

The death of George Floyd sparked an uprising of historic proportions that reflects a deep lack of public confidence in our nation’s criminal justice system. We as judges are duty bound to respond. We must acknowledge the reality of systemic racial inequality in our justice system and throughout our society. We must commit to ensuring equal access to the courts and to bold, immediate actions that restore public confidence in our justice system.

The Honorable A. Leon Higginbotham properly once noted, while contemplating the “badges and incidents of slavery” as described in the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: “Today’s conditions on race relations are a sequelae and consequence of the pathology created by this nation’s two and a half centuries of slavery.” His Honor further observed that the denial of equal access to the courts represents no less a vestige of slavery than the denial of equal housing and employment. Let his Honor’s recognition of these facts guide our noble struggle.

We cannot escape our history or deny that it continues to influence our laws, institutions, hearts and minds. We must act with urgency to identify, confront, and root out the sources of racial inequality and oppression wherever it exists in our justice system, including in our own assumptions and interpretations.

I commit to ensuring that our courtroom is part of the movement to dismantle systemic racism and oppression in our justice system. This is my sworn duty as a judge in a nation of laws that promises “equal justice under law.”

Elected, Independent, District Judge in Pittsburgh, PA. Access to justice is essential to a vibrant and equitable democracy. he/him/his