The Associated Press reports that the New Jersey Supreme Court has chastised Superior Court Judge James N. Citta, who “belittled an immigrant defendant’s poor English skills and compared another defendant to O.J Simpson.”
Citta demeaned a Mexican immigrant who, after pleading guilty to violating his parole, explained that he failed to follow its terms because he didn’t speak or understand English and was provided with a parole officer who couldn’t speak or understand Spanish. According to the official complaint filed against the judge, Citta responded by engaging “in a gratuitous diatribe about immigration and his opinion of illegal aliens”:
CITTA: Now so let me understand this. Not only do we have to let him come into the country illegally and stay here, not only do we have to provide him with public assistance, not only do we have to provide him with free health care, not only do we have to provide him with a free attorney when he gets in trouble, now he wants a bilingual probation officer, because otherwise it’s inconvenient for him.
Well I think it’s a miracle you haven’t been sent back to Mexico as a result of being placed on probation and being charged with these crimes in the first place. If it was up to me, I’d take you just as you’re dressed and bound right now and have you escorted back to Mexico forthwith and forget the prison term, but it’s not.
In another instance, Citta compared defendant Earl Peeples to O.J. Simpson and “berate[d] the defendant at length”:
CITTA: You look up domestic violence in the dictionary, your picture should be next to it. The only difference between you and O.J. Simpson is he had more money and he got off for some reason in a land of fruits and nuts.
The complaint filed against Citta accused him of “creating an appearance of racial or ethnic bias.” In its decision, New Jersey’s high court’s Disciplinary Committee wrote, “We find that [Citta's] remarks were not only inappropriate but highly objectionable, at least outwardly indicative of bias, and wholly unbefitting a court of law.” In a letter to the court, Citta defended his words. Citta indicated that he was simply trying “to make a point” using language that those before him could understand. Citta, a judge in the criminal division of Superior Court, also wrote that his handling of “the most horrific, sadistic, and emotionally charged criminal trials and sentencings” was not his choice and that it has “exacted a toll which, on occasion, has led me to say things better left unsaid.”