Amid Threat of Impeachment, Judge Accused of Telling Blacks to ‘Go Back to Africa’ Steps Down

Former Circuit Court Judge Mark Hulsey. Image courtesy of the Florida Times-Union,

A Florida judge has resigned in disgrace rather than face a formal investigation into allegations that he hurled a series of sexist and racially offensive comments from the bench.

Duval Circuit Court Judge Mark Hulsey III hastily resigned from his Jacksonville judgeship on Monday, Jan. 23, just one day before the start of a rare impeachment investigation launched by the legislature, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Hulsey already was the subject of an investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission for reportedly referring to one of the female staff attorneys as a “b—h” and a “c–t,” and saying African-Americans should just “get back on a ship and go back to Africa.”

In its formal complaint against Hulsey, the JQC also accused him of comparing female lawyers on his staff to “cheerleaders who talk during the national anthem,” and trying to control what information his judicial assistant would divulge to the JQC during its probe.

“Your conduct represents an interference with the JQC’s inquiry process and your JA (judicial assistant) was temporarily resigned to prevent further interference,” the commission’s report read.

A pending investigation by the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee into Hulsey’s bad behavior, which could have led to his impeachment, ultimately prompted the embattled judge to step down. A judge hasn’t been impeached since the 1970s, The Florida Times-Union reported.

“I hereby tender my resignation as a judge of the Circuit Court of the State of Florida, Fourth Judicial Circuit, Group 25, effective this 23rd day of January, 2017 at 10:15 a.m.” read his hand-delivered letter to Gov. Rick Scott. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people of the state of Florida.”

In total, Hulsey was accused of 18 violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He also was accused of violating Florida’s state election law after he listed people as supporters of his 2016 campaign without securing those endorsements in writing. Hulsey acknowledged his failure to secure the endorsements but has vehemently denied the accusations of inappropriate behavior. He has since disputed the allegations in filings with the Florida Supreme Court, the publication reported.

The panel hearing to determine whether Hulsey was guilty of any wrongdoing was scheduled for the week of June 12, but officials with the JQC said the case would probably be dismissed since Hulsey had already resigned from his judgeship. Had the hearing gone forward, the ex-judge’s punishment would’ve ultimately been left up to the Florida Supreme Court, according to The Florida Times-Union.


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