Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Judge’s Racial Remarks Insult Black GOP & Lawyers

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kay Granger
440 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4312
Phone: (202) 225-5071
Fax: (202) 225-5683

Dear Kay Granger:

I have received several reports about Tarrant County Judge Brent Keis’ remarks to a black lawyer as being “racially insensitive”. What is most concerning to me is the judge implies that all local GOP think like him.

Before making judgment on this issue, I would like to share my thoughts with you and ask your guidance.


Apparently a black lawyer representing white clients in an insurance claim came before Judge Brent Keis’ court. The judge noted the African origin of the lawyer’s name and then added the strange comment about Africans making better athletes because “the weak ones were thrown overboard”. What am I to assume from this?

Further, in explaining to the clients the risk they would run in bringing litigation, Keis told Nuru Witherspoon’s clients that they could “bet on black” and pursue a trial on their claim, but told them that would be risky because “Tarrant County is made up of Republicans that think like him.”

Some of my African-American GOP friends, as far away as Virginia, have been telling me essentially that their party “never bet on black”.

My question to you, and the other esteemed Republicans representing the great state of Texas, do you concur with Judge Brent Keis?

There is more at stake than simply political party affiliation. Nuru Witherspoon’s clients felt intimidated enough to settle out-of-court because they felt like the courtroom atmosphere was hostile against them, insofar as being represented by a black attorney.

I do not know if the judge’s comments made them feel that they would have been better off by being represented by a white attorney or a GOP attorney. But clearly the effectiveness of their representation was undermined.

Let me say that the ramifications are far-reaching. Does this explain why African-Americans receive harsher sentences in court or smaller lawsuit settlements and why there is a perception of disparity in justice in the courtrooms of Texas? What does GOP has to do with race and influence in the courtroom? Surely, I don't understand.

The reason I ask is because we (Tarrant County Faith-Based Reentry Committee) will meet on Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 10 A.M. at the Servant House Baptist Church, 1400 East Richmond Avenue, in Fort Worth, Texas 76104.

One of the surprise items on the agenda is a resolution rejecting Judge Brent Keis’s comments. I say “surprise” because the role of Tarrant County Faith-Based Reentry Committee has been to focus on removing reentry barriers for ex-offenders. This issue raises the question of the quality of justice in the courtroom as it relates to criminal trials, and not just lawsuits.

Unlike my counterparts, I am not asking for a statement of outrage and repudiation, but a position statement on where you and other GOP leaders stand.


  1. Simply amazing! The United States never ceases to amaze me! And yet, I believe she DOES speak for the Republican Party nationally, judging by their behavior as a party.

    I think you're doing the right thing by asking other Republicans if they agree with judge Granger's statements.

  2. Always put the direct question on the issue. Asking the right question make or break people, by putting their conscious on the line. I'm glad Kay Granger came out and disassociated herself from the judge's GOP comment. The object now is to isolate him and let him deal with the issue of his courtroom behavior. He can't say hip-hop made him do it.

  3. oh wow...that was an incredible post.

    thank you for the information and the insight into the system.

    I thought it was quite intelligent to go the direction of approaching another judge.

    Excellent post.

  4. oh and thank you for the comment that you left on my was a pleasure to have you visit.

  5. Fabulous post... Brother, I'll be checking you out.

    God bless...

  6. A review of what truly happened might be fair. In April 2007, Nuru Witherspoon, an African American attorney from Dallas County, appeared before Judge Brent Keis in Tarrant County Court of Law Number One, on behalf of his clients seeking money for alleged “whiplash” injuries in a minor auto accident. The damage to the vehicles was not visible in photographs. Judge Keis was friendly with the Dallas lawyer, asking about his name and learning it was of African origin. Although Witherspoon was later to complain about the conversation he had with Judge Keis about Africa, and African Americans, Witherspoon acknowledged in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of May 2nd, 2007, “He thought it was a compliment and he was sincere in his comments.”
    After this off-the-record and conversation between Witherspoon and Judge Keis, in an effort to encourage settlement as permitted by Judicial Ethics in (Canon 4) Keis thought to educate and inform the Dallas based Witherspoon about the low jury verdicts in Tarrant County in miner impact soft tissue cases. Thus, Judge Keis suggested the settlement Defendant’s insurer had made seemed to be very reasonable.

    It is a fact that Lawyer Witherspoon had failed to file within the time frame required by law doctor’s affidavits he would need to prove his client’s case. Rather than embarrassing Mr. Witherspoon in front of his clients about this malpractice, Judge Keis encouraged the Plaintiffs’ to accept the settlement offer.

    A settlement was agreed to, then announced to the Court and everyone left the courtroom apparently happy.

    The evidence is that a few days later that Mr. Witherspoon mentioned his conversation with Judge Keis, and that Keis, when referring to the risk of going to trial had mentioned going to trial was a gamble, much like standing at a roulette wheel and betting on black. These friends of Mr. Witherspoon, members of an affiliated section of the Dallas County Bar Association, have been actively engaged in lobbying and campaigning against republican nominees or candidates to Federal or State benches, in favor of Democrat nominees or candidates for such benches. It is this group that saw an apparent opportunity to distort what was said and to libel Judge Keis in an effort to help future democrat candidates for judge in the upcoming 2008 elections in Tarrant County. This also promoted by the successful election of Democrat judges in Dallas County in 2006.

    Additionally, lawyers familiar with Judge Keis and in response to the slanderous and libelous allegations, submitted letters in support of Judge Keis which were much like the following, “Please be assured that every thinking lawyer who practices in Tarrant County will sees this report for what it is – a malicious attack by a lawyer who could not otherwise convince his client to accept a settlement. It is an easily recognizable trick – convince a reluctant client that he cannot get a fair hearing due to judicial bias, so that the client will accept an offer that he previously said he would not accept.”

    As a practical measure, Tarrant County sees more cases filed every month in each court that can be physically tried in a month. Judge Keis is able to keep the time between the filing of the lawsuit and its trial by informally encouraging settlement and asking lawyers and litigants to reasonably assess their chances. As commented by Daniel Blumberg in his editorial in the Fort Worth Star Telegram of July 28, 2007, “As taxpayers, we should be grateful to Keis and other jurists who keep our system functioning. Without their careful prodding, we would have to elect and pay for many times the number of judges we have now, build additional courtrooms and pay the salaries of many more court personnel. Their efforts also hasten justice. Blumberg goes on to say “The Judicial Conduct Commission should not merely find him blameless. They should congratulate him on a job well done. So should we.”

    With the documents on file with the Judicial Commission is a letter by Lillian Hardwick, co-author of the Handbook of Texas Lawyer and Judicial Ethics. On Page Three of her opinion regarding the initial actions taken by the commission, Ms. Hardwick writes, “Based on all of the above my inquiry regarding the procedures followed and the sanctions recommended for Judge Keis, I began with the presumption that the Commission and it’s staff had done the right thing and for the right reasons. In spite of this presumption, after reviewing the materials, I have reached the opposite conclusions and find the Commission’s procedures and proposed sanctions utterly inconsistent with its past performance.”

    In my opinion, “playing the race card” to secrete the stupidity of a professional is an uneducated and preposterous scheme. In my opinion, for all of the heartache this has cause Judge Brent Keis, Nuru Witherspoon should either be disbarred or ordered to enroll in etiquette, ethics and self help courses and have a psychiatric evaluation performed due to his unethical behavior, insecurities and misuse of his heritage. Just in case any article failed to mention, one should know that Judge Brent Keis is a kind hearted, intelligent and very religious man without a prejudice bone in his body. He has been serving Tarrant County for over 20 years, must be a reason and I don’t think the reason is bigotry. He has many black friends and associates who don’t take part in playing the race card that respect and honor this man. God Bless!