Dress-up mess-up: Leaked images show Judicial Council employees in offensive inmate costumes

NAACP, National Lawyers Guild object to ‘blackface’ from Sacramento judicial office

Not everyone’s favorite holiday should be Halloween.

The Sacramento-based Judicial Council of California has found itself in a storm of controversy since images from an office costume party leaked earlier this month that the NAACP and other groups have deemed offensive.

Showing employees in prison drag, with male workers in long wigs seemingly intended to make them resemble transgender inmates, some with painted faces and another employee in dreadlocks, the images were obtained from the Judicial Council’s intranet, ABC7 reported.

The Judicial Council is responsible for crafting policies that affect the California court system, the largest in the nation. It falls under the purview of California Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye, who has been sent complaint letters by the NAACP and Sacramento chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which describes itself as the oldest racially integrated bar association in the nation.

“It is deeply disturbing and confidence-shaking to see photos and read stories about a Halloween party … in which Judicial Council staff dressed as inmates, decorated workspaces as a prison, and wore blackface,” the NLG letter states. “The event raises serious questions about the culture of the Judicial Council, a body charged with advancing impartiality of the judiciary, and the role of the Council’s leadership in fostering that culture.”

In an emailed statement, Administrative Director Martin Hoshino promised corrective action and called the events that transpired at the Halloween costume contest last October “insensitive and unacceptable.”

Writing that he had relayed apologies to the NAACP and Cantil-Sakauye, Hoshino said he would continue ongoing outreach efforts with the NAACP and “other groups.”

The body was scheduled to consider updates to trial court funding this week.