Florida Record

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Charges filed against Duval County circuit court judge for alleged racist and sexist comments

By Dawn Geske | Aug 14, 2016

General court 10

JACKSONVILLE – A Duval County circuit court judge has been reassigned to probate court after a female staff attorney claimed that he made racist and sexist remarks to her.

Judge Mark Husley was reassigned to the probate court where he oversees wills. Husley is accused of telling the female staff attorney that blacks should “go back to Africa.” He has denied the charges

Husley will face off against attorney Gerald Wilkenson for the 2017 seat on the 4th District Circuit Court, serving Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. But Husley may face sanctions as probable cause was found by the Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission. The commission has decided to pursue charges, which include being discourteous and condescending to staff, expressing criticism to staff attorneys that is unnecessary and for using language that is inappropriate for the judicial office.

Wilkerson already has made note of the incident.

"I hope to win this election regardless of Judge Hulsey's alleged wrongdoing,” Wilkerson told the Florida Record. “It would be naive to suggest they will not have some impact. Unfortunately, there are some in our community who may want a judge with these values on the bench, and so it may strengthen their desire to vote for him. I believe that these allegations notwithstanding, I am by far the more qualified candidate. I have been a trial attorney for more than 16 years. I am a veteran, a father, a husband, and I have practiced far more areas of law than Mark Hulsey.”

The commission has filed formal charges in the matter with the Florida Supreme Court. It has until October to make its recommendations for sanctions. The charges filed claim that Husley has called a female staff attorney several derogatory names that are explicit. The names came after the woman complained that Husley was overusing staff attorneys. The charges also recall a 2011 incident where Husley is accused of making offhanded comments to an aide that African Americans “should go get back on a ship and go back to Africa.”

"I cannot imagine an allegation more serious against a judge than these, which go directly to the heart of his or her ability or inability to be fair and unbiased, and to see every litigant as worthy of respect and justice,” said Wilkerson. “So I would say the allegations are very serious.”

During the ongoing investigation, Husley will preside in probate court for reassignment and his cases will be handled by another judge in the circuit court. Husley also has called for his own investigation into the matter, saying information about the charges was leaked before they were actually filed, affecting his confidentiality.  Husley has served in the legal profession for three decades and joined the bench in 2011. He also is a military veteran. 

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