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Judge Reprimanded For ‘Offensive’ Ku Klux Klan Joke

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has been publicly admonished for making a remark about the Ku Klux Klan during a meeting with attorneys in the case of two black defendants, according to a state review board.

The Commission on Judicial Performance found that Judge Harvey Giss “should have known that his insensitive courtroom reference to a history of violence towards persons of the defendants’ ancestry, whether intended to make a valid point regarding his role as a judge or in jest, was offensive and inappropriate.”

Giss was taken off the case following a discussion last July with attorneys in which the judge perceived that the lawyers wanted him to explain the potential benefits of a plea agreement with the defendants, according to the public admonishment.

“Judge Giss made a remark to the effect that he guessed that the only thing that would make the defendants plead was for the judge to come out in a white sheet and a pointy white hat, which the judge indicated he would not do,” the statement said.

Giss also reportedly referenced “the Ku Klux Klan and the fact that both defendants were African-American,” according to the admonishment.

The judge conceded two days later when the defense requested his removal from the case that it was a “bad statement,” but remarked that “people don’t have a sense of humor any more”.

The commission determined that the conduct was “at a minimum, improper action” by Giss, who has been a Superior Court judge since 2001.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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