The allegations continue to intensify against Florida Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey.
In all, he is accused of violating more than 14 canons of the Florida code of judicial conduct.
As the Judicial Qualifications Commission questioned Hulsey and the people who worked with him, he confronted his judicial assistant, imploring her to “tell the truth,” according to court documents. But, he ordered, she should also mention to investigators that she didn’t think he would ever make derogatory remarks about women or African Americans.
Hulsey’s actions, including his alleged remarks about blacks and women, led judicial officials to reassign Hulsey to a probate court and could get him kicked off the bench.
Civil rights groups say it’s clear blacks accused of crimes wouldn’t be able to get a fair hearing in front of him.
His wasn’t reprimanded solely for the alleged derogatory comments, according to court records. He also abused the assistant that he later coached about talking to investigators, compelling her to pay his personal bills, write letters and make phone calls on his behalf. The notice says he also pushed his own work onto staff attorneys, even during a death penalty case.
The commission told the court that enough probable cause exists to prove Hulsey violated misconduct rules. As the investigation continues, the judge has been reassigned to probate court, overseeing wills.
It remains unclear who made allegations against Hulsey, which go back as far as 2011. He was elected in 2010 and makes $146,000 a year, according to the Florida Times-Union.
In the wake of the complaints, a group of pastors in Jacksonville, Fla., has demanded that Hulsey resign, according to WJXT.
“Anytime a judge makes statements that degrade any people, whether they are black, white or whoever they are, that judge should be removed from office,” Pastor Fred Newbill, of First Timothy Baptist Church, told the station.
Hulsey, a military veteran with three decades of legal experience who is up for reelection, denied the allegations in a statement to the Associated Press.
“These false allegations have been a poorly kept secret hanging over me like a cloud for months,” Hulsey said in the statement.
He told Floridapolitics.com that the allegations are politically motivated.
“That will allow the challenger in my reelection campaign to continue using these baseless allegations in his attacks against me,” he told the politics website. “I’m counting on my reputation for impartiality, integrity and honesty to help voters and my longtime supporters see through these dirty political tactics.”
But a group of black, Jacksonville area attorneys has also come to Hulsey’s defense.
Prominent black lawyers question charges of racism against Jacksonville judge Mark Hulsey https://t.co/z1CN5tte72 pic.twitter.com/mrTxl4ZRFp— Florida Times-Union (@jaxdotcom) July 20, 2016
“I’ve never seen anything consistent with that type of statement,” Jacksonville lawyer A. Wellington Barlowe told WJXT, a Jacksonville television station. “As a matter of fact, it’s been the very opposite. [Hulsey] has a reputation in the courthouse among just about everybody I can think of — white lawyers, black lawyers, men and women — he has a reputation for being fair to every litigant that comes before him.”