By DOUG SIMPSON, Associated Press
Last Updated 3:56 a.m. PST Tuesday, November 11, 2003
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A white judge is under fire for going to a Halloween party costumed in blackface makeup, an afro wig and a prison jumpsuit with shackles around his wrists and ankles.
State District Judge Timothy C. Ellender's costume stereotyped blacks as criminals and convicts, said Jerome Boykin, president of the NAACP's branch in southern Louisiana's Terrebonne Parish, where Ellender's court is located.
"For a judge to take the time to paint his face black with shoe polish, put on an afro wig, a prison jumpsuit and shackles ... and walk around in public, I feel he ain't fit to be a judge," Boykin said Monday.
Ellender acknowledged that he wore the costume but said it was a harmless joke.
"It's a tempest in a teapot," he told The Courier of Houma.
Ellender did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.
The judge agreed to meet with black activists, elected officials and clergy this week to discuss the costume, which he wore to a restaurant in Houma, about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans, Boykin said.
The black leaders will decide after the meeting whether to file a complaint with Louisiana's Judiciary Commission, which can censure and dismiss judges who violate the state's judicial code of conduct.
Ellender has been criticized in the past for keeping a shotgun in his courtroom and giving out unusual sentences.
He sentenced a man convicted of accidentally killing his best friend to regularly place flowers at the victim's grave. He sentenced a youngster with chronic speeding violations to clean up trash from a bayou using the judge's boat.