Southern District of New York Judge Richard Owen’s comments to a West African woman during her sentencing for heroin trafficking have led a federal appeals court to remand her case and reassign it to another judge.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, while making it clear that Owen “harbored no bias” toward defendant Fanta Kaba, said the problem was the judge’s “apparent suggestion that the sentence was based, at least in part, on the defendant’s identification with the West African community.”

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