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Judge who allegedly used gay slurs retires from the bench

A lawyer in front of judges
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A judge on the Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court who said that “being gay is an abomination to mankind” has agreed to resign from the bench.

Judge Harriet Thompson was suspended from her position in 2021 because of “serious allegations of bias and discrimination,” which included racist and homophobic remarks.

“I hate these gay white men,” Thompson, who is Black, is quoted as saying. She allegedly also said that “gay racist fa***ts” were “trying to ruin me and get me… Being gay is an abomination to mankind. The Holy Ghost [is] going to get them.”

She also allegedly expressed bias toward litigants with Hispanic-sounding names. “They have a deceitful trait that goes way back to Biblical times,” she is quoted as saying. “The men are always stealing, and the women are no better. They lie, steal, and use their vaginas for anything they want.”

The affidavit also alleges that Thompson targeted natives of the West Indies, overweight co-workers, fellow female judges, white women, and Black women.

The New York Daily News noted, when reporting on her removal in 2021, that Thompson made repeated unprompted remarks to a reporter about Judaism: “I don’t want to be rude because I know Shabbat will be coming soon tonight.”

Thompson denied making most of the comments, but an inspector general’s inquiry found evidence for them and filed a formal complaint last year with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The complaint also said that she failed to administer court matters in a timely way.

She was supposed to face a misconduct hearing next week but she reached a deal earlier this week where she agreed to step down as judge, never seek or accept another position as a judge, and stop her lawsuit against the commission.

“The conduct charged against Judge Thompson was egregious and, if established at trial, would have warranted her removal from office,” said commission administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian. “She now claims a medical condition prevents her from performing judicial duties, which opens a different path in furtherance of the public interest for her immediate and permanent departure from the bench.”

Her lawyer said that the deal has “no finding of wrongdoing” and that his client agreed to step down because of “her medical problems.” Otherwise, the lawyer said, “She would have vigorously defended herself.”

During her tenure at the bench, Thompson had several conflicts with the court’s public administrator, Richard Buckheit, who is gay. She accused Buckheit of creating a hostile workplace for Black employees and only hiring white men for temporary jobs. Buckheit said that those accusations were false and a result of Thompson’s homophobia.

The conflict led to an investigation into Thompson’s comments in front of court employees, which resulted in a December 2021 report full of accusations of biased remarks about LGBTQ+ people, Hispanic people, people of West Indian descent, and other groups.

She denied most of the comments, although she did admit to denouncing homosexuality in general. She said that that comment was protected by the First Amendment.

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