Sullivan County man wins appeal after accusing judge of saying racist remarks

A Sullivan County man won his appeal from behind bars after accusing the judge of saying racist remarks.

News 12 Staff

Jul 6, 2021, 10:15 PM

Updated 1,084 days ago

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A Sullivan County man won his appeal from behind bars after accusing the judge of saying racist remarks.
An appeals court has ruled in favor of Angelo Johnson to reduce his sentence by a decade after they found the judge’s remarks at his 2018 sentencing were racist. 
Court documents show retired Sullivan County Judge Frank Labuda said Johnson’s brain was “retarded in growth” and was “not developed through no fault of [his] own.” 
Johnson was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for burglary as a repeat felon, but he could be released as early as next month because of the appeal. “My hope is that this gives some hope to others that may have been afraid to bring the issue up,” says Johnson’s appeal attorney Carolyn George. “In this day and age, for someone to say that – it was very horrible.”
Johnson’s sentence was reduced by 10 years after the panel of appellate judges found Labuda’s comments were aligned with 19th century beliefs about African Americans. 
Court documents also referenced an incident during the trial where Labuda repeatedly told court officers to bound the defendant’s mouth with tape.
“The judges demeanor throughout the entire proceeding was disrespectful,” says George.
Labuda retired in 2019 after 22 years on the bench and a failed run at Sullivan County district attorney.
He currently works in private practice and did not immediately respond to News 12’s requests for comment. He has denied his remarks were racist in a published report. 
Angelo Johnson is up for parole next month. If released, he’ll serve five years post release supervision.


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