Photo: 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida

A Miami judge is trying to blame his New York upbringing on the fact that he used a racial slur to describe a black defendant.

It appears that Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stephen Millan will face some discipline, with an investigative panel for Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission recommending that he be suspended for 30 days, fined $5,000 and be issued a public reprimand, according to the Miami Herald.

But that isn’t the end of Millan’s offenses. In addition to referring to a black defendant as “moolie,” he also referred to another man’s supporters in court as “thugs.” The judge is also being disciplined for inappropriately communicating with lawyers about scheduling outside of court.

Millan, 52, agreed to his sanction, which still has to be approved by the Florida Supreme Court. The judge, who is of Italian and Puerto Rican descent, reportedly “readily admitted to his misconduct” and paid to attend racial-sensitivity training (sounds like someone was trying really hard not to lose his job to me), but the commission still recommended suspension to “demonstrate to the public, and to remind the judiciary, that racial bias has no place in our judicial system.”

Millan was elected in 2014 and oversees felony cases in the criminal division of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida. It was back in 2016 and 2017 that lawyers reported his use of “demeaning language in off-the-record conversations.”

Advertisement

One lawyer said that in October 2016, he was in Millan’s chambers discussing scheduling when the judge called the defendant a “moolie,” which is a slur not used very often today.

According to the Herald, “moolie” is a shortened version of “mulignan,” a Sicilian slur used to describe black people or someone with dark skin. Literally, the word translates as “eggplant.”

Millan said that he “used [the slur] intermittently as a ‘youngster’ growing up in New York.”

Advertisement

“It was not unusual for my friends and I to occasionally use slur words when referring to others, including our friends and ourselves,” he told the commission.

Then there was another case in 2017 when Millan was taking a break during the hearing of a different black defendant charged with murder. Millan reportedly told his bailiff to grab a wallet that he had left in the courtroom, saying, “I don’t trust it in there with those thugs.”

The defendant’s attorney heard the comment and believed that the judge was referring to the man’s family and friends who had gathered to support him.

Advertisement

According to the Herald, Millan is no longer overseeing cases in criminal court and is now working with the juvenile division.

“The use of racially derogatory and demeaning language to describe litigants, criminal defendants or members of the public, even behind closed doors or during off-the-record conversations, erodes public confidence in a fair and impartial judiciary,” Judge Kristina Marx, the commission’s chair, wrote in her report. “The commission is unswayed by Judge Millan’s testimony that he gained familiarity with the use of certain racial slurs during his youth.”