Let me preface this absurd episode by saying that it makes no sense whatsoever, not ethically, not logically, and certainly not legally.
Craig Doran, the chief judge of the region that includes Rochester, New York, has resigned from his administrative judicial duties because an old photograph turned up from 1988 when he was a second-year law student. It was, yes, from a Halloween party, and showed him costumed as a “well-known public figure of color.” We aren’t even told who in any of the media reports. In case your calculator isn’t handy, that was 33 years ago.
Since his graduation from law school, Doran has had a stellar career. Elected in 1994 to represent New York State’s 129th Assembly District in the State Legislature, he was appointed Supervising Judge of Family Courts in the Seventh Judicial District in 2006. . In 2011, he was appointed Administrative Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, making him the chief supervisor of all Courts in an eight-county region. He has also been the Presiding Judge of Drug Treatment Courts, a member of the NYS Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, has served as Chair of the Judicial Commission on Interbranch Relations, Co-Chair of the NYS Juvenile Justice Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (advising the Governor on statewide juvenile justice policy), and as a member of the Office of Court Administration Raise the Age (RTA) Task Force. Judge Doran was selected to serve on the Judiciary Task Force on the Constitution, and the Judicial Commission on Parental Representation, and has also been active as a law professor at the University of Rochester and at Keuka College. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at the former, teaching upper level classes in the Legal Studies, and with the latter in the Adult Studies Criminal Justice Bachelor and Master’s Degree Programs, and also as an Instructor Expert for the Center for Professional Studies and International Programs at Keuka.
Never mind: what’s really important is what he wore as his costume at a law student Halloween Party.
New York’s chief judge and chief administrative judge told Doran that he had to resign from his role as Administrative Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, though he will still serve out the four years remaining on the 10-year term he was elected to on the trial-level Supreme Court. The Rochester Black Bar Association and the Monroe County Bar Association criticized Doran’s “insensitive behavior.” At a party. In 1988. When he was 24 years old. Before the culture went nuts, and nobody thought that a white man dressing up as Jesse Jackson was any more offensive than a black man wearing a Ronald Reagan mask.
It isn’t, you know. But it’s so satisfying making white guys beg for forgiveness
Of course, as we have come to expect, the judge groveled at the altar of contrived offense, saying,
“I did not comprehend at the time the hurtful nature of my actions. I know now that an act of this nature is considered to be racist. I can assure you that this event in 1988 in no way reflects my beliefs and principles. I ask for forgiveness from these who have been hurt by this, those I may have embarrassed, and from the people who have taken time in their lives to educate me about the hurt my actions caused.”
But nobody was “hurt” by that costume in 1988. Let’s say it was a Jesse Jackson costume. Jesse would have felt honored. Nobody was ‘hurt” by the costume in 2021 either. How could anyone sane be “hurt” by a photo from a student Halloween party more than three decades old?
Judge Doran should have stood up to the mob. He had an obligation not to cave to this bullying. he should have announced that he would not resign and would not apologize for conduct that was innocent, did not hurt anyone. and that occurred when he had no responsibilities as a judge, a lawyer, an elected official or a public figure. Then he should have added that these contrived “racial insensitivity” witch hunts are harmful to society , unjust and divisive, and that he refused to endorse, enable, or capitulate to them.
Instead, Judge Doran did his best imitation of a science fiction splicing of Winston Smith, the Manchurian Candidate, and Galileo. In so doing he proved himself unqualified to be a judge.