Empty Court Room

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Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge David Bernhard wrote of Terrance Shipp’s trial to be held on January 4, “criminal defendants are disproportionately of color and judges disproportionately white … the Court is concerned the portraits may serve as unintended but implicit symbols that suggest the courtroom may be a place historically administered by whites for whites.”

Bernhard stated:

“The broader concern is whether in a justice system where criminal defendants are disproportionately of color and judges disproportionately white, it is appropriate for the symbols that ornament the hallowed courtrooms of justice to favor a particular race or color. Evaluation of this matter is left at present to the sound discretion of each presiding judge. There may be contrary views holding the dignity of the Court process is not offended by celebrating the service of prior judges with display of their portraits.

However, in weighing the interests of honoring past colleagues against the right of a defendant to a fair trial, the Court is concerned the portraits may serve as unintended but implicit symbols that suggest the courtroom may be a place historically administered by whites for whites, and that others are thus of lesser standing in the dispensing of justice. The Defendant’s constitutional right to a fair jury trial stands paramount over the countervailing interest of paying homage to the tradition of adorning courtrooms with portraits that honor past jurists.”

“The prevalence of portraits of white judges in the courtrooms of the Fairfax Circuit Court, which constitute some forty-five (45) out of forty-seven (47) individuals, while not emblematic of racism on the part of presiding judges, certainly highlights that until the more recent historical past, African Americans were not extended an encouraging hand to stand as judicial candidates,” Bernhard also said. He continued, “the low hanging rotten fruit of overt racism is easily identified and picked off to strengthen the tree of society. The more conventional symbols which to some impart tradition, and to others subtle oppression, are less comfortably addressed. The ubiquitous portraits of white judges are such symbols.”

He added, “Portraits that overwhelmingly imply justice is the province of administration by whites also arguably increase the danger of jury nullification when the victim is of color and the accused white.”

15 thoughts on “Court Portraits of White Judges are ‘Racist’”
  1. You need as yourself who is really racist the ones receiving the accusations or the ones slinging them. An old saying the pot calling the kettle black. I say the accusers are just as racist if not more as the ones they are accusing.

  2. This is the biggest bunch of judicial BS I’ve ever seen, and I’ve spent 41 years in the legal arena. This judge is a PC coward. There is nothing wrong with highlighting, via pictures/paintings of past jurists. The courts are the last place being PC should be allowed.

  3. I thought that justice was supposed to be “blind”
    Who appointed this guilt-ridden clown anyway? Let me guess

  4. When the Chinese take over, racism in this country will abruptly end. Wake up America. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858.

  5. When Communist China takes over America, “racism” in this nation will abruptly end. Wake up America! As Abraham Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Paraphrasing Matthew 12:25) How about we stop making race an issue and start standing united against the real issue. The organized, methodical attempt by other nations to take our nation just like they said they would years ago – without firing a shot!


  7. Cancel culture at its finest. There is a chicken vs egg issue at heart here. Some things that are percieved as “racist” are actually economic divides. Poor people who break the law tend to commit crimes of an overt nature, theft, drug dealing on a small scale, armed robbery ….More affluent folks commit crimes too, but they tend to be things like embezzlement. It is still THEFT to take things that do not belong to you, but whether you do so by diverting thousands of dollars from a corporation or by walking into a 7-11 with a Glock is a matter of economic level, not of race….

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