Controversial comments: Houston judge accused of racial bias

HOUSTON – The ACLU says a judge's comments amount to an open admission of racial bias against young black male defendants in his court.

State Judge Michael McSpadden -- on the bench in Harris County since 1982 -- is one of 31 felony court judges who instructed lower court judges to deny personal bonds to defendants for more than a decade, according to an investigation by the Houston Chronicle published last week.

McSpadden is quoted in the article defending his actions. "Almost everybody we see here has been tainted in some way before we see them, they're not good risks," he said, adding that young black male defendants were listening to "rag-tag organizations like Black Lives Matter."

"Who do they get advice from? Rag-tag organizations like Black Lives Matter, which tell you, 'resist police,' which is the worst thing in the world you could tell a young black man. They teach contempt for the police; for the whole justice system," he said.

Ashton Woods is an organizer of Black Lives Matter Houston.

“People like him need to be voted out because he's a representation of the old guard,” Woods said.

“There are all types down here, all races and they all made mistakes and they may continue to make mistakes. But I think it was very unfair for him to single out blacks,” said Tucker Graves, president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association said. Graves said his black clients have been treated fairly by McSpadden in the past, but says he is concerned by the judge's comments and what he says is a systemwide bond problem.

We reached out to the judge Wednesday for a comment. We were told by his clerk that he was busy with a capital murder trial.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct says it cannot comment at this time.

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