State and local chapters of the NAACP are asking that a St. Mary’s County judge be investigated over comments he made at a hearing for Antonio Warren Gantt.

Gantt, who was convicted of two 2007 robberies, was given life sentences as a result of those crimes. Those convictions were overturned last year, however, because Gantt—who represented himself at trial—wasn’t told about the possible life sentences.
Judge C. Clarke Raley, who sentenced Gantt to prison, was upset with the appeals court decision and according to St. Mary’s County’s Enterprise newspaper called it “a very stupid decision.”

“It’s obvious I hate him,” Raley said, according to the Enterprise. “I think he should be hung. Go get me a rope.”

Gerald Stansbury, president of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, is calling for the State Commission on Judicial Disabilities to investigate Raley’s comments for what he called “tempered and inflammatory remarks.”

“Judge Raley remarks crossed the line,” Stansbury said in a statement. “His remarks not only are inappropriate but raise the question as to whether he has the judicial temperament that is necessary to continue to serve on the bench.”

Raley, a lifelong resident of St. Mary’s County, retired after nearly 30 years on the bench in April. This incident was not the first time Raley made comments from the bench that raised eyebrows.

In 2005, an appeals court questioned Raley’s understanding of the law after he incorrectly ruled that Joseph Medley should $1,000 to the jury, after pleading guilty to marijuana possession.

“It is clear, after reviewing the statutory provisions relevant to the present case, that the Circuit Court lacked the authority to levy or set a fine premised, in whole or in part, on paying for or reimbursing jury costs that may have been incurred because Medley did not waive his jury election until the day of trial,” Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Glenn T. Harrell wrote in his decision.

This time, though, Raley’s statements went too far, Stansbury said. Stansbury said Raley’s statements raises are unacceptable and he wants a full investigation into his actions.

“Judge Raley owes the citizens of Maryland an apology for these outrageous comments and the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities owe the citizens of Maryland an assurance that this type of conduct will not be condoned,” Stansbury said.

“We are confident that this matter will not be brush under the rug and we intend to monitor this situation closely to insure that a judicious and expeditious investigation is conducted.”

Gantt awaits retrial on the robbery charges and he has also been charged with allegedly threatening to have the judge and prosecutor in his first trials killed.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO