Reports indicate that the Millville Municipal Court is being investigated by the state over accusations of racial discrimination.
Municipal Judge Jason Witcher reportedly claims that Latino defendants were not given the option to appear virtually and had to show to court in person.
“Whether I continue as a judge or not as a result of this, I (would) still do what I did again because it was the right thing to do,” Witcher said in a published report.
A spokesperson for the court reportedly said the court was, “not aware of this practice taking place in any other municipal court.”
The members of the New Jersey Legislative Latino and Black Caucuses issued a statement expressing concerns over allegations made by Municipal Court Judge Jason Witcher regarding the Millville municipal court system:
“Earlier this month, Millville Municipal Court Judge Jason Witcher called out alleged discrimination in how Latino defendants were being treated in the Millville municipal court system. He has claimed that most defendants with Latino-sounding names were required to appear for court appearances in-person, while others were given the option of virtual appearances.
“As members of the New Jersey Legislature, we take allegations about inequality in state and local practices very seriously. We are charged with the responsibility to ask questions, evaluate current policies and practices, and work with our colleagues in the Executive and Judicial branches to find solutions. To that point, earlier this month, the leadership of the Latino Caucus wrote and met twice to discuss these allegations with Judge Glenn Grant, Director of the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). In these meetings, Judge Grant discussed the initial findings in their internal investigation of the Millville Municipal Court system from September 2022 to December 2022. At that time, their investigation revealed that individuals with Latino surnames have appeared for both virtual and in-person court proceedings. Judge Grant indicated that they would expand their internal investigation to a broader period, which will go back to February of 2022. When their internal review is complete, they will reveal those findings.
“We are thankful for Judge Grant’s prompt response to our written concerns and await further communications from him on their findings once the internal investigation is complete. We also want to support those Latino advocacy groups who have come forward to express concerns of discrimination and join their call for an independent investigation of this matter by the Division on Civil Rights. A request that the AOC also supports. We remain committed to ensuring that any practice, whether state or local, that impacts communities of color in a negative disparate manner be addressed and rectified immediately to ensure that all New Jersey residents are treated equally and fairly throughout all levels of government.”