CALIFORNIA— Chief Judge of Central District of California, Judge Cormac J. Carney, who initiated his four-year term on June 1, announced his resignation following a racial comment that occurred on June 9 during a webinar regarding a black administrative official, Kira K. Gray.
The controversy first broke out during the webinar where U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney discussed the protests in various cities that followed the killing of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officers. He gave an overview of his position, then directed his comments toward Gray stating,
“It’s been sad, to see our courthouses vandalized with graffiti…fortunately for me, we have a fabulous clerk of the court in Kira Gray. She’s so street-smart and really knows her job”.
The term “street-smart” sparked controversies with the staff and judges who took the remark as a negative connotation. Carney offered a public apology to Gray, who became the first African American woman to be appointed as the Central District’s executive and clerk of court. In the email regarding his resignation he stated that Judge Philip S. Gutierrez will step in to accommodate the duties of Chief District.
“I have apologized to Ms. Gray, but I have concluded that a simple apology will not put this matter to rest. There will be division in the Court, unnecessary, negative and hurtful publicity, and a diversion from the Court’s essential mission of administering justice if I were to continue serving as the Chief District Judge,” Carney wrote in the resignation email. He added, “I cannot allow the Court to become politicized and embroiled in controversy.”
Carney had previously been nominated by former President George W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the Central District of California and was confirmed by United States Senate in 2003. Most recently he became Chief Judge on June 21, 2020. Although he is resigning from this position, he will resume being a federal judge.