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Senior Judge Retires to Speak up About Racial Inequality

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Andrew West/News Press
Retired Senior Judge Hugh Starnes

For more than four decades Fort Myers native Hugh Starnes was a judge in Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit. He stepped down recently in order to speak out about what he sees as “deep, serious flaws in our society” including systemic racism.

In his resignation letter to Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice, Charles Canady, Starnes wrote, “My value system will not allow me to sit silently by while our society struggles to deal with these flaws that tear at the very fabric of our society and democracy, and worse, while the upper echelon of our federal government appears to be aggravating these flaws rather than attempting to solve them. This presents an irreconcilable conflict with my position as a judge, bound by judicial ethics that require me to say nothing.”

Judge Starnes’ decision has already gained a lot of attention, and will likely continue to do so, because his actions are uncommon and he says he plans to remain active in pursuit of this cause. He joins us to talk about his decision to retire now in such a public and symbolic way.

You can listen to the extended portion of the conversation below.

Senior Judge Retires to Speak up About Racial Inequality

Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University. 
Julie Glenn is the News Director and the host of Gulf Coast Live. She joined the WGCU team in November of 2016 to expand the Gulf Coast Live call-in radio show from once a week to five days a week.  Since then, the show has been recognized in state and regional competitions and has featured artists, political leaders, historians, environmental experts, doctors, local reporters, and national and international scholars. After leading the station's award-winning coverage of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017, Julie was named Interim News Director. In January of 2018, she launched WGCU's first podcast: Grape Minds.