Legal Ethics

Federal judge who sent racist email will retire

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A federal judge who sent an email containing a racist joke about President Barack Obama to several people last year while serving as chief judge for the District of Montana will retire from the bench May 3.

The plan by U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, who took senior status last year after the email stirred controversy, was announced in a March 29 letter. It followed a March 15 order by the Judicial Council of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Associated Press reports.

What the March 15 order said will not be revealed until after an appeals period expires on May 17, says a written statement posted on the 9th Circuit’s website.

The AP says Cebull declined to comment, through the court clerk in his jurisdiction, and a spokesman for the 9th Circuit declined to say whether there is any connection between the March 15 court order and Cebull’s decision to resign. The legal ethics process is confidential, he noted, and the judge’s resignation letter was not made public.

The judge apologized to Obama in writing and self-reported his conduct to legal ethics authorities after it was revealed by a local Montana newspaper.

See also: “9th Circuit Committee Appointed to Investigate Ethics Complaints over Judge’s Racist Email”

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