Ohio county judge apologizes for blackface costume

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — A county judge in southern Ohio who donned blackface for a Halloween party has apologized for the costume and met with a local NAACP leader about the issue.

Ross County Common Pleas Judge Scott Nusbaum was photographed at a party wearing dark makeup, a pink dress and a gray wig, the Chillicothe Gazette reported.

Local NAACP President Olie Burton, who met with Nusbaum on Friday, said the judge explained that he chose to dress as a servant while Nusbaum’s wife dressed as Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind.”

Nusbaum told the Gazette he regrets the costume and called it thoughtless and insensitive.

“Although it was stupid, I certainly didn’t do it maliciously,” Nusbaum said. “I was born in this community and I’m sorry I let my community down.”

Burton said he considers the costume choice out-of-character for the judge.

“We left with an understanding that we know it was in poor taste, but we accept his apology and this is not in his character,” Burton said.

Nusbaum acknowledged the possibilities that the costume could create a perception of bias in his work and could prompt disciplinary action from an Ohio Supreme Court board if it were to be deemed unethical conduct.

The rules for judges call for “promoting confidence in the judiciary” and say that can be eroded by personal or professional conduct “that creates the appearance of impropriety,” the newspaper said.

Nusbaum, a former county prosecutor, said he’s always been objective in handling cases. He was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2012, both uncontested races.

The county public defender, Susan Pettit, said she and her staff consider Nusbaum to be a fair judge and don’t feel the costume choice is representative of him.

Several other blackface costumes made national headlines this past Halloween and spurred criticism. Actress Julianne Hough apologized after she was criticized for darkening her skin for a costume as the character Crazy Eyes from the show “Orange is the New Black.”

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

No easy exit from Smokey Point shopping complex

There’s just no easy exit on this one. A reader called in… Continue reading

Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

City Council OKs initial funding for Smith Avenue parking lot

The site of the former Smith Street Mill is being developed in anticipation of light rail.

Single fingerprint on robbery note leads to arrest

The holdup occurred at a U.S. Bank branch in Lynnwood in June.

Two windsurfers rescued from Port Susan near Kayak Point

The men had failed to return to shore during Sunday’s windstorm.

Yes to turn signal — eventually

Adding a right-turn signal at 112th St. and 7th Ave. is turning out to be a bit more complicated.

Mill Creek councilman no longer lives in city, panel finds

The Canvassing Board determined Sean Kelly is not eligible to vote there.

A Democrat and ex-Republican team up to end two-party politics

Brian Baird and Chris Vance unveil a new organization called Washington Independents.

Most Read