Published on: Friday, August 4, 2023

A black man charged in a drug case appears before a white Detroit federal judge. Judge, frustrated with the many delays in the case, declared: “This guy looks like a criminal to me.” Black man: not cool. White judge two years later: I was mad at the time, “I regret it,” and "just because I got mad does not mean I'm biased." Imposes 10 ½ years imprisonment. Prosecutor: Judge's remark was a reference to the crime, not the man's appearance. Sixth Circuit: Whatever.  "We are highly concerned by this remark, especially when directed toward Liggins, an African American man." “Such remarks are wholly incompatible with the fair administration of justice.” Allowing the conviction to stand “would substantially undermine the public’s confidence in the judicial process.” Conviction vacated. New trial in front of a different judge.

The case is United States v. Liggins, No. 22-1236 (6th Cir. Aug. 3, 2023).