Retired Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Frank Barbaro wants a white man he convicted in 1999 of killing a black man to be freed — claiming Wednesday he based the verdict on his own reverse racism.
The 86-year-old former jurist convicted Donald Kagan, now 39, of fatally shooting Wavell Wint, 22, during a struggle over Kagan’s chain outside an East New York movie theater in 1998.
But Barbaro told a court that, because of his viewpoint as a civil-rights activist, he didn’t consider a justification defense by Kagan in the nonjury trial.
“Mr. Kagan had no intent to kill that man . . . I believe now that I was seeing this young white fellow as a bigot, as someone who assassinated an African-American,” Barbaro, a former longshoreman who also served 23 years in the state Assembly, told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya Simpson.
Barbaro said he contacted Kagan’s attorneys after some deep soul-searching led him to realize he had denied Kagan a fair trial.
“I was prejudiced during the trial. I realized I made a terrible mistake and there was a man in jail because of my mistake.”
Barbaro contacted defense attorney Jeff Adler, who filed a motion in 2011 to overturn Kagan’s conviction.
Barbaro said his work during the civil-rights movement fed into his bias in the trial. “The question of discrimination against African-American people became part of my fiber — my very fiber,” he told Simpson.
What the judge is admitting to is being influenced by the ruling liberal narrative in which white men are tagged as oppressors and non-whites as victims. The judge is confessing that this narrative coloured his perception of what had happened.
Note that he also admits that the issue of racial discrimination against blacks became part of his "very fiber." That's true of some of my work colleagues. Their sense of identity and moral purpose is bound up in the issue of white racism against blacks. That's why the liberal narrative is so difficult to shift. It's not difficult to criticise it on factual grounds, but what's more difficult is shifting white liberals to an alternative sense of identity and moral standards.