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Calls for Clark Co judge to resign after Peterson comments

   March 16, 2021 1:45 AM
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by Jacquelyn Abad, KOIN 6 News Staff

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VANCOUVER Kevin Peterson Jr
VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A Clark County judge is facing calls to resign after comments he and another court official made about Kevin Peterson Jr. , a Black man killed by deputies, were posted on YouTube.

To limit the spread of COVID-19, court proceedings can be viewed on a livestream. During a courtroom video recording, Judge Zimmerman was talking with another court official about the case.

In the transcript provided by The Columbian, Zimmerman told the other court official Kevin Peterson was "the Black guy they were trying to make an angel out of."

Zimmerman also talked about the family's GoFundMe page: "George Floyd attorneys had already contacted him. He has a GoFundMe page that said my unarmed son was murdered by police. He knew his son had a gun. (Unintelligible). That's like getting money under false pretenses."

Mark Lindquist, the attorney representing the Peterson family, said, "First, the judge shows no empathy for a grieving father. Secondly, he misunderstands the basic facts of the case. Finally, his gossipmongering and bias undermine confidence in the judiciary."

The family is expected to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Clark County later this week.

A statement signed by 5 Clark County judges said these statements were indefensible"

"Clark County District Court has zero tolerance for racism. The views of Judge Darvin Zimmerman do not reflect the values of our court nor us as individual judges. Racial bias displayed by a judge is unacceptable, unethical, unjust and cannot be tolerated….

"… As a court we recommit to the pledge we made publicly in July 2020: that Clark County District Court must be a place where litigants, attorneys and employees are treated with dignity and respect regardless of race or background."

Criminal defense attorneys at Barrar Law called for Zimmerman to resign:

"Judge Zimmerman's conduct erodes the public's confidence in our judicial system. A judge's independence, integrity, and impartiality are paramount in making our system work. When a Judge fails to uphold the Canons of his profession he is no longer fit to serve. Judge Zimmerman should resign. The bias and the racism displayed in his comments have no place in our community and no place in our courtrooms. We must hold our judicial officers to a high standard so that everyone in our community has equal access to justice. Judge Zimmerman has shown that he cannot meet that standard and should resign."

Zimmerman told The Columbian "any time we lose a life, it is a tragedy; Kevin Peterson is no exception." But he didn't apologize or describe his comments as racist.

KOIN 6 News reached out to Judge Zimmerman for comment but has not yet heard back.

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