Judge Wall didn't intend to be offensive, [appeals court judges] Kessler and Curley opined. But, they claim, "a reasonable person" would conclude he "was improperly considering the defendant's race." They focused on a couple sentences out of thousands and suggested Wall didn't mean to be a racist — but is.That's a pretty outrageous and irresponsible accusation against Judge Kessler and Judge Curley. They most certainly and unequivocally did not suggest that Judge Wall is a racist.
Nor did they claim merely that a reasonable observer might find an improper consideration as a basis for the defendant's sentence.
They found that a reasonable person in the position of the defendant could have. That is a fundamental distinction. I would submit that had they not taken the defendant's own perceptions into consideration, they very likely would have affirmed his sentence.
Nichols, like many others, needs to go back and reread the court of appeals decision more carefully before making such pronouncements.
Interestingly, Nichols himself goes on to imply that another well known judge does harbor racist inclinations:
Our attorney general should appeal this decision to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, there are some bench warmers there, too — including former Burnett County Circuit Judge Michael Gableman, who not long ago ran a Willie Horton-style ad that really was offensive. Exoneration from the likes of people like Gableman probably won't mean much to Joe Wall.As offensive and insulting and pandering as Gableman's teevee ad was — and it was, very much so — I strongly disagree that it serves as an indicator of racism on the part of Gableman personally.
Although it was almost undeniably designed to appeal to and exploit racism for votes, what it was was the sleaziest of gutter politicking and for that, no racial component is necessarily required.