Vida Johnson, the co-director of Georgetown University’s Criminal Justice Clinic and author of the article, “White Supremacy from the Bench,” was the guest at the next Conversations on Race and Policing on Monday, Feb.12, on Zoom.
In her article, which was published in the Lewis & Clark Law Review in May 2023, Johnson wrote about racial bias demonstrated by judges, who, according to the article’s abstract, “are the only player in our adversarial legal system that are by design ostensibly neutral, impartial, and without bias. Unfortunately, that legal fiction is not fact. Some judges hold racial biases.”
The article’s abstract also said: “There are deep inequities in the legal system. The bench needs to be viewed critically as a tool and enforcer of racial oppression. Deep racial inequities have persisted in our country and the law has addressed only some of the most egregious. Worse, judges have created legal doctrines to get around legal remedies offered by our elected representatives to keep people of color from recovering in court.”
Johnson is an associate professor of law at Georgetown. In addition to co-directing the Criminal Justice Clinic, she also serves in the same role for the university’s E. Barrett Prettyman Program, a post-graduate training program for aspiring public defenders. She is a graduate of NYU Law School and the University of California at Berkeley.
The Conversations on Race and Policing program began after the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and its aftermath. Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, triggering extensive protests, demands for systemic reform in policing, and profound dialogues on race and racism. This also led to the inception of Cal State San Bernardino’s Conversations on Race and Policing, abbreviated as CoRP.
In subsequent court cases, three other former Minneapolis police officers implicated in Floyd’s death were given prison sentences.
The series has featured scholars, journalists, law enforcement officers, lawyers, activists, artists, educators, administrators and others from throughout the nation who shared their experience and expertise on issues related to race and policing.
One hundred forums have taken place since, and video recordings of the sessions are posted online on the Conversations on Race and Policing Lecture Series Archive.
Upcoming programs, which will all take place at noon on Zoom, include:
- Feb. 26: In Conversation with Gisela Perez Kusakawa;
- March 4: In Conversation with Rosemary (“Ruby”) Nidiry;
- March 11: In Conversation with Dr. Samantha Simon;
- March 18: In Conversation with Dr. Tony Cheng
The series is organized by Matt Patino (CSUSB MA candidate); CSUSB faculty members Mary Texeira (sociology) and Jeremy Murray (history); Robie Madrigal, public affairs/communication specialist for the CSUSB John M. Pfau Library; Michael German, fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice; and community member Stan Futch, president of the Westside Action Group.
Also visit the Conversations on Race and Policing webpage.