Kentucky Judge Olu Stevens
Kentucky Judge Olu Stevens, the African-American jurist who became known last year for his dismissal of all-White juries, recently sentenced a man to 60 days in jail for uttering a racial slur after a hearing.
Adam Satterly appeared before Judge Stevens in a Jan. 4 hearing during which Stevens revoked his bond on drug charges. As he was led away by deputies, Satterly apparently decided to vent, screaming out “Punk a-s n-gg-r,” according to a video of the hearing obtained by Louisville, Ky. Fox affiliate WDRB.
Stevens ordered sheriff’s deputies to bring Satterly, who is White, back in a few minutes after the outburst and asked him, “Is there something that you wish to say to me?”
Satterly, whose attorney had already left, replied that the comment was meant for his brother and was not meant as a racial epithet.
“No, no, no, I didn’t mean it like that,” Satterly said, according to the video.
“Oh, you didn’t mean it like that?” the judge responded. Signaling his disbelief, Stevens then said he was holding Satterly in contempt of court. “You don’t speak those words in here. And that word particularly, you don’t use that word. I’m going to give you 60 days for having used that word. I’m going to hold you in contempt right now for having used it in this courtroom. It’s disrespectful; don’t ever do it again.”
The following day, Stevens had Satterly brought before him again, this time with his lawyer in tow.
He lectured Satterly about his lack of courtroom decorum and called his remarks “disrespectful.” However, he offered him a measure of grace.
“If you offer an apology, I will grant you time served,” Stevens told Satterly, according to another video obtained by WDRB.
Satterly apologized, though he maintained that he was addressing his brother, who was in the courtroom at the time.
“I was mad at my brother is all it was,” Satterly told the judge.
The incident is not the first time Judge Stevens has been embroiled in a courtroom drama with racial undertones. Late last year, he dismissed all-White juries in two cases, saying they were not representative of the community. Earlier last year, he was criticized after scolding two parents for allegedly “fostering” their 5-year-old daughter’s fear of all Black men after the family was allegedly robbed at gunpoint by two African-American suspects.
He also got into hot water after a series of Facebook posts in which he accused chief prosecutor Tom Wine of wanting “all-‘White” juries. Stevens stopped hearing cases for a few weeks after a reprimand from Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton and after an investigation into his comments was launched by the Judicial Conduct Commission.