RALEIGH – An email dated July 6, 2020 from Mecklenburg County chief district court judge Elizabeth Trosch and district court judge Donald Cureton, Jr. was sent to other judges within Mecklenburg County inviting them to participate in a video project. The email was sent from the judges’ official email accounts to what appears to be a list of other district and superior court judges in Mecklenburg County.
In the email, Trosch and Cureton wrote that on June 2, “Chief Justice Cheri Beasley delivered a bold, poignant, and heartfelt message about the protests occurring across the nation. More importantly, she re-enforced the need for the judicial system to not only acknowledge the sources of the pain and frustrations being expressed, but also the role courts play in perpetuating disproportionate outcomes for people of color.”
Trosch and Cureton then asked the judges copied on the email to participate in a video project where each of the judges would state some of the excerpts from the Chief Justice’s statement and the footage would be edited “in a way that we hope will be visually and emotionally moving,” according to the email. The two judges say they hope to have the full engagement of the district and superior court judges.
Later in the email, the judges say they believe the recommitment is more than a mere statement, and, “Despite our collective best efforts to fulfill our oath, people of color are treated differently and experience different outcomes across all divisions of the trial courts.”
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley is running for a full term as Chief Justice against Associate Justice Paul Newby in November’s general election.
Below is the script containing excerpts the judges are asked to recite from the “pledge to recommit to the work of justice” speech:
We must develop a plan for accountability in our courts.
Even the best judges must be trained to recognize our own biases.
We have to be experts not just in the law, but in equity,
equity that recognizes the difficult truths about our shared past.
In our courts, African-Americans are more harshly treated, more severely punished and more likely to be presumed guilty.
The data overwhelmingly bears out the truth of lived experiences.
We must openly acknowledge the disparities that exist
and are too often perpetuated by our justice system.
We must come together to firmly and loudly commit to the declaration
that all people are created equal,
and we must do more than just speak that truth.
We must live it every day in our courtrooms.
Our pledge to you today is that we will.
All: We must do better, we must be better.