Rolling Out

Black woman forced to appear in court partially clothed

Judge Amber Wolf and unidentified defendant (Photo Source: Jefferson District Courtroom footage, Louisville, KY)
Judge Amber Wolf and unidentified defendant (Photo source: Jefferson District Courtroom footage, Louisville, Kentucky)

A recent appearance of a woman in a Louisville, Kentucky, courtroom caused outrage from the public and the judge. It was not the woman’s crime that was the issue but the fact that she appeared in court without pants and was in need of feminine hygiene products.

Jefferson District Court Judge Amber Wolf was presiding over the hearing of a Black female inmate who was arrested on an outstanding shoplifting charge. The unidentified defendant pleaded guilty to the crime that occurred in 2014. She was supposed to have entered a diversion program but admitted to the judge that she never attended or completed the program. She had been rearrested by police multiple times for failure to complete the program and failed to appear at a court hearing where she was sentenced to 75 days in jail. This resulted in a warrant for her arrest and an appearance before Judge Wolf. Because the judge was looking down, reviewing the facts in the case, she did not initially notice the defendant’s lack of clothing.

When the defendant stated that she had not been arrested on any other charges, Judge Wolf says, “OK, I’m not accepting this sentence. … That’s ridiculous. I’m sentencing you to a …” she then notices the woman isn’t wearing pants.

The judge incredulously asked, “Excuse me … excuse me. This is outrageous. Is this for real?” The woman said that she had been in the custody of Louisville Metro Department of Corrections for two to three days, and had requested a pair of pants and feminine hygiene products, but her request was denied.

Judge Wolf became visibly upset and took out her cellphone during the trial to call the jaii. She is heard saying, “I’m actually calling to talk to Director Bolton or anyone … uh … who can come to my courtroom and tell me why there is a female defendant standing in front of me with no pants on.”

The judge then orders a courtroom deputy to find something to cover the woman up and apologizes for the ordeal.  She then orders her back to the holding tank to spare her anymore indignity. But before the woman leaves she tells her, “Also, I’m changing your sentence to $100 fine — credit time served — for that.”

A director from the jail finally was finally reached and clothing for the woman was received. Judge Wolf then ordered her immediate release.

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