NJ Black, Latino Caucuses Support Probe on Judge Witcher’s Charges on Latino Court Appearances
AC JosepH Media
TRENTON – The members of the New Jersey Legislative Latino and Black Caucuses on Thursday said they supported an investigation into charges made by Municipal Court Judge Jason Witcher regarding the Millville municipal court system and discrimination against Latino defendants.
Earlier this month, Witcher called out alleged discrimination in how Latino defendants were being treated in the Millville municipal court system. The judge claimed that most defendants with Latino-sounding names were required to appear for court appearances in-person, while others were given the option of virtual appearances.
Witcher said since then, he has been threatened with being removed from the bench in an unrelated matter.
“As members of the New Jersey Legislature, we take allegations about inequality in state and local practices very seriously,” the Black and Latino caucus said in a joint statement. “We are charged with the responsibility to ask questions, evaluate current policies and practices, and work with our colleagues in the Executive and Judicial branches to find solutions.”
The leadership of the Latino Caucus wrote and met twice to discuss these allegations with Judge Glenn Grant, Director of the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). In those meetings, Grant discussed the initial findings in their internal investigation of the Millville Municipal Court system from September 2022 to December 2022.
“At that time, their investigation revealed that individuals with Latino surnames have appeared for both virtual and in-person court proceedings. Judge Grant indicated that they would expand their internal investigation to a broader period, which will go back to February of 2022. When their internal review is complete, they will reveal those findings,” the statement said.
The statement said they wanted to support those Latino advocacy groups who have come forward to express concerns of discrimination and join their call for an independent investigation of this matter by the Division on Civil Rights.
“A request that the AOC also supports. We remain committed to ensuring that any practice, whether state or local, that impacts communities of color in a negative disparate manner be addressed and rectified immediately to ensure that all New Jersey residents are treated equally and fairly throughout all levels of government.”
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