Lexington Judge Highlights Racial Disparities in Local Court System

Lexington, KY – Fayette Circuit Judge Julie Goodman has dismissed a murder case involving Cornell Denmark Thomas II, citing significant racial disparities in the local court system.

According to a report by the Herald-Leader’s Taylor Six, the case, which, stems from a 2020 hit-and-run incident that resulted in the death of Tammy Botkin, initially saw Thomas facing serious charges. However, the unfolding of the case revealed more than just the details of a tragic accident; it uncovered systemic issues of racial bias in legal proceedings.

Fayette Circuit Judge Julie Goodman

Judge Goodman, in her dismissal, pointed out a disturbing pattern in the Fayette Commonwealth Attorney’s Office’s approach to prosecuting cases involving Black defendants. She noted that Black defendants, like Thomas, often face harsher charges compared to their white counterparts, underlining a clear racial disparity in the judicial process.

Goodman’s observations are backed by statistics from the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, which show that Black defendants are disproportionately charged and convicted. In her 24-page ruling, she highlighted the case of a 27-year-old white defendant involved in a similar incident but charged with a lesser offense, underscoring the inconsistency in the application of justice.

The dismissal of Thomas’s case was not just based on these observations but also on significant evidentiary gaps. The prosecution failed to establish that Thomas acted with criminal intent or was significantly impaired at the time of the incident. Initial tests showed low levels of marijuana in his system, but expert testimony later deemed it unlikely to have caused impairment or psychosis, challenging the prosecution’s narrative.