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Judge admits mistake in kicking whites out of court

  • Story Highlights
  • Judge Marvin Arrington regrets decision to remove white lawyers from court
  • Arrington says he wanted to talk to black defendants, urging them to get lives together
  • Arrington plans to open court to everyone Thursday, deliver same speech
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(CNN) -- An Atlanta, Georgia, judge who ordered white lawyers out of his courtroom so he could lecture African-American defendants called that decision a "mistake" Tuesday night.

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Judge Marvin Arrington says he is fed up with the defendants he keeps seeing in his courtroom.

"In retrospect, it was a mistake," Judge Marvin Arrington told CNN. "Because my sheriff said to me, 'Judge, that message should be given to everybody' -- 'Don't violate the law, make something out of yourself, go to school, find a role model, somebody that will help you advance your life.'"

Arrington, who is African-American, is a judge in Fulton County, Georgia, which includes the city of Atlanta.

He said he got fed up seeing a parade of young black defendants shuffle into his courtroom and decided to address them one day last week -- out of the earshot of white lawyers.

"I came out and saw the defendants, and it was about 99.9 percent Afro-Americans," Arrington told CNN affiliate WSB-TV of Atlanta, "and at some point in time, I excused some lawyers -- most of them white -- and said to the young people in here, 'What in the world are you doing with your lives?'"

The judge thought his message would make a greater impact if he delivered it to a black-only audience, he said. Video Watch judge talk about decision to lecture black defendants »

"I didn't want them to think I was talking down to them; trying to embarrass them or insult them; be derogatory toward them, and I was just saying, 'Please get yourself together,'" Arrington said.

In his Tuesday night appearance on CNN, Arrington told Anderson Cooper that that seeing the same faces walk in and out of his courtroom year after year takes its toll.

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"I ask them all the the time, 'What progress are we making with you?' And sometime they cannot answer," he said.

He said he would open his court doors to everyone on Thursday and "I am going to give the same identical speech: 'You've got to do better.'" E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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