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Black Female Office Holders Perceive They are Racially Targeted by Local Media

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Are African American female public office holders treated differently than their white counterparts by local media?

Two black female judges answer that questions with a resounding: YES.

In our continuing in-depth conversations about race and racism, WOUB’s Spectrum Podcast talks with two first-time African American female judges from Northeastern Ohio, who bring to the bench a wealth of legal experience.

Both were asked if they perceived any different treatment from local news media than is given to their white counterparts. Both provided situation upon situation where white judges were praised for activities that black judges were criticized for doing.

These stories even include situations of disparate treatment by news media between how white and black judges handle court matters during the pandemic or follow guidelines from the state Supreme Court.

The unfounded inferences often are that black female judges are lazy, dishonest, “shifty” and cannot be trusted to follow appropriate legal guidelines. None of those accusations have been made over the same period of time of white judges of equal legal stature.

In fact, it is alleged by our two judges, that white judges are not only not criticized but they are praised for the same activities for which the black judges are denigrated.

Hear the stories of Judge W. Mona’ Scott, the first black female judge elected to a full term on the Cleveland Municipal Housing Court and Judge Gayle Byers Williams, the first black female judge of the S. Euclid Municipal Court.

Judge Scott came to her court from experience in private legal practice and stints with the Cleveland City Prosecutor’s Office and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. She has had a diverse legal career expanding two decades with experience in family law, civil litigation, criminal prosecution and criminal defense work. She is a long-time proponent of social justice causes.

Judge Byers first became judge in the S. Euclid Municipal Court in 2012. Prior to that she served over a decade as an Assistant Prosecutor in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Judge Byers also is a Fellow at the National Judicial College located on the campus of the University of Nevada-Reno. It is the premier educational arm of the judiciary, helping to train judges from across America and around the globe.