Probe of federal judge's alleged sexual harassment didn't go far enough, committee says

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A committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference is ordering additional investigation of a federal judge sanctioned last year for “inappropriate and unwanted” sexual advances toward a court employee.

In a July 8 decision (PDF), the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability ordered additional investigation of U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr. The Waco Tribune and KWTX have stories, while the lawyer who sought the additional investigation, Ty Clevenger, has comments at his LawFlog blog.

The committee said allegations in the case raise the question whether Smith had a pattern and practice of sexual harassment of women, and the Judicial Council of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should investigate.

The Judicial Council of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reprimanded Smith in December for the sexual advances made to an employee in his chambers in 1998. The council also found that Smith allowed false factual assertions to be made in response to the ethics complaint, contributing to delays. The December order required Smith to take sensitivity training and barred new cases from being assigned to him for a year.

According to the committee’s July 8 decision, the 5th Circuit Judicial Council did not address allegations that Smith had sexually harassed women in other incidents that could be confirmed by witnesses. The order also said the Circuit Judicial Council should make additional findings about how the inquiry was affected by Smith allowing false factual assertions in response to the complaint.

Clevenger wants the Circuit Judicial Council to suspend Smith immediately and recommend impeachment.

Smith declined comment through an employee contacted by the Waco Tribune.

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