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January 17, 1992 - Image 35

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-01-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Aish HaTorah Presents .. .

Learn to read Hebrew.

Judge Makes
Racial Comments

Jacksonville, Fla. (JTA) —
A chief circuit judge who
testified under oath last fall
that the city needed more
Jewish judges so they could
work on Christmas and
other holidays, now finds
himself caught in a racial
tempest over remarks he
made last month about
blacks.
In an interview appearing
Dec. 22 in the Florida Times-
Union, Chief Circuit Judge
John Santora Jr., 69, said he
opposed interracial mar-
riage, linked crime in public
schools to integration and
said welfare recipients who
prefer getting a handout to
working are black.
In the fall, at a federal
trial challenging the racial
fairness of Florida's system
of electing judges, Judge
Santora said: "We want
Jewish lawyers to become
judges because we need

He opposed
interracial
marriage, linked
crime in public
schools to
integration and
said welfare
recipients who
prefer getting a
handout to
working are black.

somebody to sit in court for
us on Christmas Day and
holidays."
Judge Santora, who heads
the 4th Judicial Circuit,
later said he was joking. He
has since apologized for his
comments about blacks but
has rejected growing
pressure to step down.
The Jacksonville Bar
Association called Judge
Santora's remarks about
Jews "insensitive" and,
after his comments about
blacks, called for his resig-
nation.
Several groups have asked
Florida court officials to
begin formal proceedings to
end his term on the bench.
Judge Santora's comments
polarized many in this Nor-
theast Florida city of
685,000. Local marchers
have supported Judge San-
tora's right to "freedom of
speech" and candor, while
protesters — from the
Jacksonville Area Chamber
of Commerce to the Florida
NAACP —have loudly called
for his removal.
Sign-carrying Santora

supporters and protesters
have paraded regularly in
front of the Duval County
Courthouse.
Civil rights leader Jesse
Jackson first learned of the
controversy while in
Jacksonville to watch his
son play in the annual Gator
Bowl Classic in late
December.
Judge Santora's
"comments about Jewish
judges reveal a deep-held re-
ligious bigotry, just as his
attacks on blacks are clearly
racist,"the Rev. Jackson
said.
He returned to the city
Jan. 4 to lead a march of
4,000 people calling for
Judge Santora's resignation,
and described the 30- year
jurist as "groping in moral
darkness."
But Jacksonville City
Councilman Dick Kravitz
noted the irony of the Rev.
Jackson's statements in
light of the two-time presi-
dential candidate's 1984 ref-
erence to New York City as
"Hymietown."
Mr. Kravitz, the only Jew
on the 19-member council,
said he understood Judge
Santora's comments about
Jews as a joke. So did Circuit
Judge Bernard Nachman,
who told the Florida . Times-
Union: "There's not an anti-
Semitic bone in (Santora's)
body."
"Everything that he says
in that vein, I've always
taken in good humor," said
Judge Nachman, a judge for
one year who has known
Judge Santora professional-
ly for nearly 30 years.
State Rep. Kathy Chinoy,
the city's first Jewish repre-
sentative, joined several city
council members and busi-
ness leaders calling for
Judge Santora's resignation.
"The fact that I am Jewish
and his remarks were about
Jews was certainly bother-
some, but no more so than if
he'd made a joke about any
other religion or race," she
said.
She and Kravitz said
Judge Santora's remarks
about blacks could serve as a
catalyst for improving com-
munication between races.
"Getting rid of Santora
won't solve racial prob-
lems," Mr. Kravitz said.
"I'm afraid people will go
back to where they were
before, instead of discussing
the issues. Unfortunately, it
might have taken something
like this to get them
started."

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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