Tuesday’s statement by the Las Vegas NAACP chapter was released to defend earlier courtroom remarks of Clark County District Court Judge Erika Balou. Ballou said to a defendant during her July 11 courtroom appearance:
“You’re a Black man in America, you know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are,” “… You listen to me, you know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are. Because I know I don’t, and I’m a middle-aged, middle-class Black woman. I don’t want to be around where the cops are because I don’t know if I’m going to walk away alive or not.”
Prosecutors were trying to cancel his probation after he was accused of assaulting a police officer. Ballou also had questionable advice for the defendant, saying that he should have “walked away.” It is unclear if the defendant even had a right to just Walk awayIt all depends on the circumstances and conditions of the probation. It is also unclear how allegedly committing battery upon officers increases your chances of “walking away alive.” But, giving weird advice isn’t what Ballou is facing scrutiny for: It’s ethics.
Demands for Ballou’s resignation came from Las Vegas Police Protective Association, the union for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers. In a tweet, the union shared a video of Ballou calling her a “disgrace to the bench.” In a statement, the union also requested the “Judicial Ethics Commission to sanction her for violating the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct.” The Judicial Ethics Commission cannot legally say if a complaint has been filed at this time.
— Las Vegas Police Protective Association (@LVPPA) July 14, 2022
Clark County’s current Sheriff and Republican Candidate for Governor, Joe Lombardo, also demanded Ballou’s resignation.
Today, I’m calling upon Clark County District Court Judge Erika Ballou to resign, and I’m also calling upon Governor Sisolak to demand Judge Ballou’s resignation. You can read my complete statement below. pic.twitter.com/hV7fmuc5Ke
— Joe Lombardo (@JoeLombardoNV) July 15, 2022
The Las Vegas NAACP chapter has defended Ballou’s anti-law enforcement comments saying that they “reflect the grim reality for African Americans” and touting them as “truths”:
“Her statements reflect not only her truths but also the community’s truth,”
This isn’t the first time Ballou has received backlash for her courtroom behavior. In 2016, as a deputy public defender, Ballou wore a Black Lives Matter pin in court where she was asked by then-District Court Judge Douglas Herndon — who now sits on the Nevada State Supreme Court — to remove the pin on the basis of it being political speech that isn’t in line with viewpoint-neutrality in the courtroom. After the police union had sent a letter to the judges about BLM propaganda in courtrooms, Ballou admitted that she was aware wearing the pin could be controversial. The same union with which she remains at war six years later. Ballou was able to remove the pin and continued wearing her black armband, along with supporters.
It’s clear Judge Ballou doesn’t understand the concept of blind justice. Ballou has been vocal in her activism and views about race, which she brought into court. This caused ethical concerns while making big headlines. As those defending Ballou cherrypick the data and call subjectivity “her truth,” Las Vegas has not forgotten the effects of extreme and dangerous racial rhetoric. After the protests against 2020 BLM, Las Vegas Metro Officer Shay Mikalonis was gunned down in the head. It paralysed him. This is As Law and OrderNevada elections are expected to be filled with rhetoric. Members of the judiciary, however, should not be afraid to justWalk awayCourtroom and bias-based political commentary.