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Thursday 28 August 2014

Judge sent 100s of racist emails

Published 18/01/2014 | 02:57

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President Barack Obama's mother was the subject of a racist email sent by a former US judge (AP)

A former judge who was being investigated for forwarding a racist email involving President Barack Obama sent hundreds of other inappropriate messages from his government account, it has emerged.

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Richard Cebull sent emails to personal and professional contacts that showed disdain for blacks, Indians, Hispanics, women, certain religious faiths and some with inappropriate jokes about sexual orientation, the findings by the Judicial Council of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, released yesterday, said.

A large number of emails also related to pending issues that could have come before former district judge Mr Cebull's court, such as immigration, gun control, civil rights, health care and environmental issues, the council found in its March 2013 order.

The council issued Mr Cebull a public reprimand, ordered no new cases be assigned to him for 180 days, ordered him to complete training on judicial ethics, racial awareness and elimination of bias and to issue a second public apology that would acknowledge "the breadth of his behaviour".

None of those orders took effect because Mr Cebull, who was the Montana chief federal judge based in Billings, announced his resignation on March 29, two weeks after the judicial council issued its order.

After he retired on May 3, the council vacated its previous order and wrote a new one calling the complaints against Mr Cebull "moot" because of his retirement. The 9th Circuit panel also rewrote the order to omit details about the findings of the other emails Mr Cebull had sent.

The changes prompted one federal judge to accuse the council of concealing Mr Cebull's misconduct and petition a national judicial council to review the proceedings.

The Judicial Conference of the United States took up the review and ordered the documents to be released for the first time yesterday.

"The imperative of transparency of the complaint process compels publication of orders finding judicial misconduct," the national judicial panel wrote in its decision.

A phone number listed under Mr Cebull's name was disconnected yesterday and an after-hours phone call to the US District Court in Billings went unanswered.

Mr Cebull himself and at least one other group requested the misconduct investigation after The Great Falls Tribune reported that Mr Cebull forwarded an email in February 2012 that included a joke about bestiality and President Obama's mother.

Mr Cebull apologised to Mr Obama after the contents of the email were published.

AP

Press Association

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