TN Judge Who Made 'Grand Wizard,' 'Masks' Comment In Court Reprimanded

By Jason Hall

October 7, 2020

A Tennessee judge has reportedly been reprimanded by the State of Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct in relation to a racially insensitive comment made in the courtroom.

Manchester General Sessions Court judge Jere Ledsinger was issued the reprimand in late September after an ethics complaint filed against him, FOX 17 News reports.

The reprimand states Judge Ledsinger referred to the Tennessee Supreme Court's mandate of face coverings being worn in court amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying "the Grand Wizard of our Supreme Court said we have to wear these masks," according to a copy of the reprimand shared by FOX 17 News.

The reprimand said the statement was made in front of several defendants, including multiple who were African American. It also confirmed Judge Ledsinger issued a letter to the board following the incident in which he admits to making the comments and claims they were intended to "soften any resistance by those present in the courtroom to the requirements of wearing a mask, as we have had negative feedback" regarding the mandate.

Judge Ledsinger admits he was wrong in the letter and added that he didn't intend to disrespect anyone when he made the comment, FOX 17 News reports.

The board's reprimand said "the damage is done" once "such comments are made" and was made public as part of corrective action decided by the board and agreed to by Judge Ledsinger.

"In short, comments such as the one involved here, even if made off-the-cuff and with no intent to be offensive, reflect an ethical lapse that undermines public confidence that our judges are unbiased in fact and appearance," the reprimand concludes.

You can view a full copy of the reprimand here.

Photo: Tennessee Courts/Getty Images

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