(ATLANTA, GA, 7/11/18) - The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) has called on the City of Sandy Springs to reverse the ruling of a judge who expressed bigoted views toward an Iranian-American nursing student as she sentenced him to five months in jail for a misdemeanor violation.
"Bigotry has no place in a court of law," said attorney Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-Georgia. "A judge who openly expresses bigotry towards Americans from Iran cannot be trusted to judge those very same Americans."
In a June 27th letter sent to the City Attorney of Sandy Springs, Dan Lee, CAIR-Georgia called on the Municipal Court of Sandy Springs to vacate the conviction against Fazial Azizan, who would have to serve five months in prison if the appeals courts uphold his conviction and sentence. The City has so far refused to respond to the letter, or change course.
After overseeing a January 2018 bench trial in which Azizan's Iranian heritage was mentioned at least six times, Municipal Court Judge Sharon Dickson found him guilty of Disorderly Conduct and sentenced him to five months imprisonment.
While issuing her ruling, Judge Dickson made numerous overly hostile, biased and bigoted remarks, including:
- “You’re not talking now. You don’t get to talk. It’s my turn. Okay? But I know where you come from, women don’t mean anything. Okay? But that’s not how it works here. Okay? You can look up or you don’t have to. It’s up to you. I mean, I’m just a woman. I’m only a woman who is wearing a robe today. Doesn’t really matter. I get this. This is who you are.”
- “So when you live in a free society, you have a responsibility. You don’t just have freedom.”
- “You need to go to jail. You are despicable to me.”
- “This is shameful. You are a small person on the inside, Mr. Azizan. You have no regard for anyone else.”
"The derogatory statements Judge Dickson made to Mr. Azizan regarding his national origin were outrageous and unacceptable," said attorney Jason McLendon, who now represents Mr. Azizan.
Mr. Azizan represented himself during his bench trial. The McLendon Law Firm is handling his ongoing appeal.
In a ruling last month, the Fulton County Superior Court described Judge Dickson's anti-Iranian remarks as "objectionable" and "wholly inappropriate," but upheld her ruling because she made the remarks during sentencing, as opposed to during the trial.
"Although a Fulton County Superior Court Judge held that these comments were wholly inappropriate, I was surprised to find that the Court held that it did not require reversal of Mr. Azizan’s conviction," McLendon said.
McLendon added, "A formal complaint against Judge Dickson will be filed and we will file an application for the Court of Appeals to grant us permission to appeal the ruling from Fulton County Superior Court."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.