San Diego County Judge Denies Racism Accusations Amid Calls for Recusal from Racial Justice Cases

San Diego, CA – Public defenders in San Diego County anxiously awaited Judge Howard Shore’s response to their motions to recuse him on Monday. The motions accused the Superior Court judge of making racist remarks during court proceedings, issuing biased rulings, and making racist comments during a meeting with public defenders. The public defender’s office is calling on Shore to step down from special racial justice hearings and remove himself from all cases involving public defenders.

In written responses to each public defender, Shore denied the accusations of racism, prejudice, and bias and rejected the motions for his recusal. “I deny that I am biased or prejudiced,” Shore wrote in response to the allegations of racism. He further stated that the assertions were based solely on subjective interpretation and speculation. Shore argued that his recusal would not serve the interests of justice.

This is the first time that Shore has commented on the allegations against him and his first public remarks since being disciplined by the state for lying about missing over 100 hours of work. Although he expressed remorse for his actions in his written response to the discipline, Shore explained that he believed it was acceptable since he completed his work at home.

One of the motions calling for Shore’s recusal cited a transcript from a recent court hearing in which Shore used a racial slur. The motion also claimed that Shore dismissed the existence of systemic and implicit racism. In response to the transcripts, Shore defended his statements as his efforts to gain a better understanding of the facts and the law.

Shore is the sole judge assigned to hear Racial Justice Act motions and cases. The Racial Justice Act allows defendants to request a judge to rule on whether racial discrimination occurred during any part of the criminal justice process. If a judge agrees that discrimination took place, charges against the defendant could be dropped.

Since Shore refuses to step down from Racial Justice Act cases, the public defenders who filed the motions have five days to confer with deputy district attorneys to choose a new judge. The new judge will then hold a hearing to determine if Shore is qualified to preside over each case.

Deputy district attorneys declined to comment on the ongoing cases following Monday’s hearing.