Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus' Discrimination Trial Goes to the Dogs: Plaintiffs' Attorney Now Accused of Racism


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Stephen Jaffe, the attorney who is representing seven black Richmond police officers in their civil claims of discrimination against their gay police chief, has been accused of making racial slurs in the courtroom. Stephen Jaffe, a middle aged white man, allegedly called Joaquin Elizondo, a member of Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus’ defense team, “Chihuahua,” which defense attorneys contend is a “well known and insulting slur” that is particularly offensive to Latinos.

Magnus’ attorneys have filed a motion with the court asking that Jaffe be sanctioned for abusive and racist conduct. Judge Barry Goode will hear the motion this morning.

The civil trial is approaching its seventh week and is expected to go well into April. Jaffe is representing seven high-ranking black Richmond police officers who claim they were discriminated against by Magnus. The officers, who earn an average of $185, 000 a year, also claim that Magnus overlooked them for promotion despite the fact that Magnus promoted two of the plaintiffs. Magnus also has also promoted more women and people of color than any other Richmond police chief.

According to the motion, Jaffe’s associate, Dustin Collier, heard the slur and made a comment and laughed. In his sworn statement, Elizondo says Jaffe has previously called him an “asshole” and a “guard dog.” In February, Elizondo claims Jaffe entered the courtroom during a lunch break and said “Well, Joaquin, I am going to run your lunch, it’s time for you to be a guard dog again, put on you guard dog collar.” On Tuesday, as Jaffe was leaving the courtroom, he turned to Elizondo and said “there you go, Joaquin, you get to leave now — the guard Chihuahua.” All of the comments were made out of the jury’s presence.

Attorneys for the black cops have also made a motion to bar Magnus’ longtime partner, Terrance Cheung, who is Asian, from the courtroom because they claim he is “intimidating.”

Update:Judge Goode is now considering sanctions against Jaffe.