Judge Gerald Popeo (pictured), a Utica City, New York judge was accused of denigrating Blacks and others. Despite his actions, he got to keep his job, according to Syracuse.com.
Popeo is alleged to have used a racial slur after a session in his court when he asked an African-American attorney if he knew what New York City Blacks call Black people from upstate New York. When the lawyer said he had no response to the question Popeo posed, the judge allegedly said, “country n***ers.”
Popeo has vehemently denied making the berating remark.
Two lawyers said they heard it, the paper reports.
There have been other accusations against the Popeo, such as in 2011, he twice referred to a prosecutor as a “cigar store Indian” for not being more aggressive in court. Again in 2011, Popeo came under fire after he was criticized for telling a public defender to “shut up” before then lashing out at a defendant who had smirked in the courtroom. “You’re standing there with a grin that I would love to get off the bench and slap off your face,” Popeo bellowed.
Despite the justice’s courtroom antics, the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct decided that Popeo was not being racially insensitive with the Native American insult. As far as the alleged “country n****rs” comment, the Commission concluded that the insults could not be verified because three other witnesses did not hear the remarks, and Popeo did not ‘fess up to making the statement.
After it was all said and done, the Commission did reprimand Popeo, but even that slap on the wrist contained a compliment:
“While the record before us depicts a judge who holds defendants and lawyers to exacting standards of courtroom behavior and is quick to lecture them for perceived displays of disrespect…respondent’s own behavior fell short of the required standards.”