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Federal Judge in Houston Accused of Racist Remarks

George Reul

U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes of Southern District of Texas has come under fire recently from legal blogs and litigants in his courtroom. On January 31, 2013, Plaintiff “JT” Shah filed a motion to have Judge Hughes recused from his discrimination case. Shah’s motion asserts that during a pre-trial conference Hughes made several comments that demonstrated actual bias or prejudice against Shaw including: “And what does a diversity director do? Go around and painting students different colors so that they would think they were mixed?”
Judge Hughes also came under fire for comments made in another discrimination case where he awarded the employer attorneys’ fees after he dismissed the case; a rare instance that would only be granted in frivolous cases. In this particular case the Plaintiff Albert Autry had a college degree and eleven years experience as an area supervisor in a school district facilities setting. The plaintiff had argued his race was a factor in the school district’s decision to hire a Caucasian facilities manager with a high school diploma, no prior experience with the school district, and eleven years working for a title insurance company. Mr. Autry alleged that the facilities director who supervised him had made comments during the hiring process that “[i]f President Obama’s elected, they’re going to have to take the Statute of Liberty and put a piece of fried chicken in his [sic] hand.” When Autry’s lawyer suggested that the supervisor’s reference to fried chicken was “a long-standing racial slur,” Judge Hughes responded “[t]hat’s really surprising to Colonel Sanders.”
It is surprising that the court held that this particular case did not have enough evidence to allow a jury to decide the evidence of discrimination. Although the Appeals Court reversed the decision to award attorneys fees to the Defendant, they upheld Judge Hughes’ decision to dismiss his case.
Click here to read The Houston Chronicle report on Judge Hughes
Click here to read the Court of Appeals decision

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