A judge in Clark County, NV, has been busted for using the prospect of probation to suggest that a convicted felon vote for Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
According to the Nevada Independent, District Court Judge Susan Johnson was explaining to defendant Monique Fresquez the series of steps she would need to undergo in order to complete her probation as part of a plea deal after Fresquez was charged with identity theft.
“What I’m hoping is that you will do everything you’re supposed to do so that you can get all of your civil rights, your liberties, restored to you,” Judge Johnson told Fresquez. “If you do everything I tell you to do, you will have your civil rights restored in about three years. You’ll be able to vote for Mr. Trump, I’m sure he could use your vote.”
The comments, uncovered on Friday but made during a hearing in late August, mark at least the third documented time Judge Johnson has dangled the prospect of a Trump vote to a defendant in her courtroom. An attorney with the Clark County Public Defender’s Office claimed in October that she’d personally heard at least four instances of similar comments.
Judge Johnson had previously insisted that her remarks were an attempt to “invoke some humor” and were intended to put defendants at ease as she explained what the restoration of their rights would entail. In response to the Independent’s latest discovery, she claimed:
It was meant to be informational only and was, in no way, intended as an endorsement of any candidate. I have since revised how I present the information so there is no misinterpretation.
But even if you (charitably) believe Johnson that her comments were not “intended as an endorsement,” it’s easy see how defendants in her courtroom—people who are essentially entirely at her mercy—wouldn’t see her presidential name drop as a pretty obvious nudge-nudge wink-wink.
According to the Nevada Judicial Code, judges may not “publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for any public office.”