TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge accused of making demeaning comments about women and saying black people should "go back to Africa" abruptly resigned on Monday ahead of possible impeachment.
Jacksonville-based Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey submitted a one-page resignation letter to Gov. Rick Scott on Monday, effective that morning.
The allegations against Hulsey surfaced last year as he sought a second six-year term. Hulsey denied all wrongdoing and won re-election. He was contesting the misconduct charges before the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission. Because of the allegations, a chief judge had reassigned Hulsey to the probate division.
But the Florida House had also quietly begun to investigate the charges, a move that apparently prompted Hulsey to resign. This week a House committee was expected to consider whether to move ahead with impeachment proceedings, although the only public notice was a "report on preliminary findings" that did not mention Hulsey.
Hulsey's resignation was first reported by The Tampa Bay Times.
Hulsey and his attorney did not immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment. In late December, his lawyer said Hulsey "denies engaging in behavior creating or maintaining a hostile work environment for the administrative support staff or the staff attorneys. Judge Hulsey further denies making inappropriate comments regarding race or sex as he is not a racist or a sexist and does not conduct himself as such."
Florida's code for judges says that judges cannot do anything that would undermine the integrity of the office, demean the office or cast doubt on the ability of a judge to act impartially.
A judicial investigative panel filed a report last year that stated during a conversation with a staff attorney, Hulsey said black people should "go get back on a ship and go back to Africa." During the initial phase of the investigation, Hulsey also allegedly ordered his judicial assistant to tell investigators he would never say anything derogatory about blacks or women.
Hulsey also is accused of referring to a staff attorney as a "b----" and another derogatory term.