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Florida High Court Won't Investigate Duval Judge Accused Of Racism

Mark Hulsey for Circuit Judge via Vimeo

The Florida Supreme Court has rejected a request to investigate allegations of racism involving a Duval County circuit judge who sentenced an African-American man to death.

Judge Mark Hulsey sentenced Death Row inmate Terrance Phillips in 2012 for the murders of two people. Last month, Phillips’ lawyer Martin McClain filed a motion to "get the facts" about highly publicized allegations against Hulsey, who was narrowly reelected last month.

McClain argued allegations of racism created questions about Hulsey's impartiality. Attorney General Pam Bondi's office objected to McClain's request, describing it as a "fishing expedition."

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the motion, citing an ongoing inquiry by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission into the allegations. The commission filed formal charges against Hulsey in July for alleged racist and sexist comments, including that he once said blacks should "go back to Africa."

Hulsey has denied the allegations, and the Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing in early February.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP