The Consequences and Realization of a District Attorney’s Racism

By: Stacy Borwn

As prosecutors weighed a Black man’s life in California, the District Attorney asked aloud about the man dating a Black woman. He also talked about Black people trying to “come up” by dating white people.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s comments have led to calls for his resignation, losing political support, and a potential rebuke from judges.

It has ripped the proverbial scab off old wounds that suggest African Americans can rarely face judgment with fairness. “I have been a criminal defense attorney for 25 years and was a federal law enforcement officer before then,” remarked Joseph Gutheinz of the Gutheinz Law Firm in Friendswood, Texas.“I can tell you that every defense attorney has heard and seen horror stories of elected politicians, to include district attorneys and Judges, derogatorily using racial slurs about, and even towards, Black defendants.”

The incident occurred in the boardroom of the Orange County District Attorney’s office, where Spitzer and other prosecutors discussed the fate of Jamon Buggs, a Black man facing the death penalty for allegedly murdering two people over a dispute about his ex-girlfriend, who is white.

According to a memo written by former Senior Assistant District Attorney Brahim Baytieh in Dec. 2021, the meeting convened to hash out whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty or life in prison.
Spitzer asked about the race of the defendant’s prior female girlfriends and or victims during the meeting.
He allegedly said, “He knows many Black people who get themselves out of their bad circumstances and bad situations by only dating white women.”

Such questions are illegal under California law. Later, Spitzer surfaced in a video using the N-word and other disparaging, racist remarks while discussing another case involving a Black man. Spitzer attempted to defend his statements. “I am not perfect, but an inartful comment during an hours-long debate in a double murder case is not reflective of my core beliefs or the years I have spent fighting to make our society more equitable and our communities safe for everyone,” Spitzer said in a statement.

But many said this type of behavior and hateful attitude reflects a centuries-old problem dogging American Justice: the scales of justice routinely weigh unfavorably heavy against African Americans.
“This is how white supremacy works,” exclaimed Dr. Breea C. Willingham, associate professor of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York Plattsburg.

Dr. Willingham and Attorney Robert Tarver of the Tarver Law Firm in New Jersey joined the NNPA’s Let It Be Known live morning news show to discuss Spitzer’s remarks and the ramifications nationwide. “White Supremacy will make statements like this and backtrack and say they didn’t do anything wrong when history dictates that a white women often weaponize themselves or are weaponized against Black men,” Dr. Willingham continued.

She noted that Spitzer also recounted to his colleagues that he knew Black men in college who dated white women to gain advantages. “When he says he knows somebody who used white women to their advantage or dated white women to their advantage, what does he mean? How is it important to this case? When Todd Spitzer says this, it makes no sense – only in the context that this is how white supremacy works,” Dr. Willingham asserted.

Tarver said he’d handled many death penalty cases before outlawing capital punishment in the Garden State. He said Spitzer’s comments were disturbing on many levels but not surprising.
However, Tarver stated that knowledge of those comments certainly should affect sentencing in the case Spitzer oversaw.

“All of the actions of prosecutors are strictly scrutinized when it comes to taking someone’s life. These statements will become part of the official record, and race and white women had nothing to do with the underlying case and determining whether this man should lose his life,” Tarver stated. “What you see here are outside influences coming into making decisions that should invalidate any determination as to whether the death penalty stands.”

Tarver added that Spitzer merely said the quiet part out loud.
“This district attorney said what he thinks in the recesses of his mind and what many of them think in the recesses of their minds,” Tarver asserted. “This is what you hear on the record, but you don’t hear the real mental process, the racist process, that goes on in the minds of people making those decisions. That’s what should trouble us.”

Latest Articles


Search our archive of past issues Receive our Latest Updates
* indicates required

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

Scroll to Top