Judge Reprimanded For ‘Offensive’ Ku Klux Klan Joke

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

  • Pam

    Gee, isn’t it a shame that being an ignorant racist just isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Used to be that kind of ignorance was just taken for granted. I’m sure that there are people who will say that it’s ok to say such things, but it isn’t. Not anymore. Of course, those people could also join the Tea Baggers and be as mean-spirited and racist as they want.

  • David 1st Son

    Way to go Judge,you Rock!! What a miscarriage of justice when a Judge gets pulled from a case merely for cracking a joke not to mention stifling a citizen’s (Judge’s )right to the first ammendment in his own court room !!!!! Too much of this type of thing going on these days. I say to the toilet with political correctness in this country,tell it like it is and F#%$ em if they can’t take a joke.

    • And He's a Judge!....OK!

      I don’t think a Superior Court Judge should ever be joking in any case unless he or she is exactly that: A JOKE! Just because we can say things doesn’t mean we should… especially in a court of law. Know your place at all times, if I can’t make racist jokes during a case in a courtroom nor can the Judge.

      • This is to u

        The comment above is to all who cherish ignorance, i.e…David 1st Son, Karen and turkish. Even the Superior Judges are getting in on the racist trend. We are a nation of followers not leaders. We all know America is racist just try not to be so blatant! Good Lord!

      • Hajiya

        Very true. Very true

    • Pysco Active

      I’ll take it you’re from the deep south, correct? KKK style…..

  • turkish

    Pam, you need to rethink here. Calling the members of the Tea Party movement “Tea Baggers” and referencing them as racists really shows your actions are in line with the actions of Judge Giss. Next time you try to make a point, don’t do the very thing you are advocating as reprehensible.

    • turkish says it all

      So you are admitting guilt to the Judge’s remarks! She is showing the similarities to another group of people who she feels share the same views as the Judge might and how it can affect this nation. So the point to her comment was that both viewpoints are dangerous, destructive and reprehensible. She never once used any racist term herself, just showing similarities of dialogue which we all know is a fact hence the article. Also do you ever ask yourself why there is a negative nickname to this group (not an official party)? If you were a Superior Judge would you make those comments? Suppose the Judge was black and the suspects were white and he referenced a similar joke in reverse about the Tea Party? How would you feel then? Maybe you should rethink these references.

    • Karen

      Good point turkish. I also agree with David. I stopped being PC last year because I am sick and tired of walking on eggs. F it if you can’t take a joke.

  • David 1st Son

    You go Karen that’s exactly why i stopped being PC,i say the truth and call it as i see it,and really don’t care if the truth hurts because it’s only hurting the ones who harbour some kind of guilt over what is said. If your house is clean,i say go ahead and throw those stones.(Although do it responsibly rather than PC)

  • Judges not Comedians

    There ‘s nothing funny in court. Judges should try comedy after court, not while sentencing someone to do time.


    Stupid Judge, 2 Blacks about to goto Prison & he had the audacity to Joke about the American History’s repression of Black slavery. Bad bad joke & choice of words.

    He’s lucky he didn’t lose his $250,000+/year salary job.


  • kauai sun

    Everyone makes mistakes, and if you’d look at his record of service to LA County, you’d see that he has been a diligent and highly-respected member of the bar for approximately four decades. It’s too bad that he is guilty of being uncouth. This tasteless remark shouldn’t erase all of the accomplishments and the fact that he is known as one of the brightest minds on the bench.

    Doesn’t “off the record” mean anything to anyone? He wasn’t involved in court proceedings. This doesn’t excuse his bad taste or insensitivity, but it isn’t as if he broadcast this “joke” across a courtroom. He just said something stupid.

  • Hajiya

    Judges miscarry justice all the time. I am a black woman and I’d rather have a white judge than Elizabeth H. Harris for a Judge. Yeah and she’s black.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Sandwich Generation

Listen Live