Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell stated in a letter today that prosecutor Karl Price will be suspended without pay from the office until they finish a review of his behavior.
As Insider Louisville reported last week, Price sent an inflammatory letter on May 22 to opposing counsel in his private practice case, making derogatory remarks about their clients’ Asian-American heritage. Price exacerbated the matter by telling IL that his remarks were not derogatory, as he had good reason to believe representatives of Hwang’s Martial Arts Academy were “illegal aliens” due to their “broken English.”
On Tuesday, Price was ordered to attend sensitivity training by O’Connell because of those remarks, though Mimi Hwang of the marital arts school said that punishment amounted to less than a slap on the wrist, and was “appalling and insulting.” In a statement, O’Connell said that was the proper discipline because Price has “served admirably and with integrity” in his position, and “our office believes in second chances.”
However, a story by Andrew Wolfson in The Courier-Journal today cast doubt on those claims, detailing numerous recent incidents in which he used offensive language toward defendants from several different demographics.
In O’Connell’s letter to Price today, he specifically mentioned the C-J piece as the reason for taking a stronger action.
“The article references specific instances of conduct by you in Arraignment Court which are quite disturbing to me and the Office,” wrote O’Connell. “I have begun review of the instances cited in the article and will obtain the archive videos of those incidents which were not embedded in the article. I want to make sure we make an independent review from the record.”
O’Connell informed Price of his suspension without pay until that review is complete, but added that he could use accrued vacation and personal days in the meantime.
In a statement to Insider Louisville, Mimi Hwang says a suspension of Price is still not punishment enough.
“Suspension is insufficient. I think it’s only a bandaid effort. This got to the prosecutors’ office the first time and it only resulted in him receiving a sensitivity class. It wasn’t until The Courier-Journal actually did an investigation that now the prosecutors’ office is listening. Did they really do a proper investigation when we first shed light on this issue? I don’t believe so. We were right in our original thoughts about Karl Price. This was not an isolated incident. I can only be led to believe this has been his behavior for a long time. We cannot continue to tolerate this type of discrimination from someone who is supposed to serve the public.”
O’Connell’s letter to Price can be read below: