‘I’m Not Going to be A Slave’: Tennessee Judge Apologizes for Comment Made During Black Defendant’s Hearing

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A Tennessee judge apologized after he was caught making a racist comment while overseeing a Black defendant’s hearing.

On Tuesday, Wilson County Judge Haywood Barry made the comment while discussing the scheduling for a Black defendant’s hearing with a lawyer, according to The Tennesseean newspaper. His remarks were recorded by audio equipment in the courtroom.

Judge Haywood Barry
Wilson County Judge Haywood Barry apologizes after making racist comment at black defendant’s hearing. (Photo: The /Tenneseean)

“I’m not working second shift. I’m going to work like a regular white man, as they used to say. …  I’m not going to be a slave,” Barry said. “Don’t allow that anymore. Don’t allow that anymore.”

He apologized for his remarks on Thursday and admitted “it was probably a very inappropriate statement.”

“I’m sorry I made it,” he continued. “I’m ashamed of the fact that something like that would even come out of my brain.”

Defense attorney Jeff Cherry insisted the comment was not “indicative of who he is.” Cherry is based in the Nashville suburb of Lebanon, Tennessee, where Barry served two terms as a city councilman.

“I have seen him stand up for what is right constitutionally over and over again without regard to race, religion or socio-economic status,” Cherry said.

“I have seen him make decisions based on applying all his years of experience to the facts and Constitution.”

Barry has sat on Wilson County’s bench since 2014. Before he joined Lebanon’s city council in 2004, he worked as a general sessions judge from 1974 to 1998. His current terms ends in 2022, and he will not seek reelection.

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct bars judges from engaging in “in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or harassment based upon race.” Examples of harassment include “attempted humor based on stereotypes.”

An investigation into the comments has not been announced.

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