Claiming to represent the Compton chapter of the NAACP, about 20 people gathered at City Hall on Tuesday in support of embattled Councilman Floyd A. James, who recently pleaded no contest to an election fraud charge and is scheduled to be sentenced today. Led by NAACP member John Maxwell, the group called for "an investigation" into the conduct of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz.
The judge recently told lawyers that he would sentence James to a felony charge--disqualifying him from elected office--unless the council withdraws a public nuisance citation against a prosecution witness accused of growing three marijuana plants in her backyard. Munoz has said he believes the nuisance action, which began with an anonymous tip passed to police by James, was meant to intimidate the witness.
The City Council also has written the state Commission on Judicial Performance to complain about Munoz.
Maxwell said the NAACP branch and several local ministers "are outraged at what is taking place and maintain that this is happening largely because Compton is a black city." He said Munoz is effectively "holding the city hostage" to the point that residents are afraid to report illegal drug activity because "those drug pushers and drug lords, they might have a friend in Judge Munoz."
Maxwell's rally, however, was not authorized by the 150-member Compton NAACP chapter, President Willie Curry said in an interview afterward. A recent poll of the members, Curry said, showed that "to a great extent they do not want to take a position" at this time on Munoz's handling of James' case. "The consensus is that we do not have the facts, other than what has been in the newspaper, about the matter," he said.