HELENA – A former Montana judge who was investigated for forwarding a racist email involving President Barack Obama sent hundreds of other inappropriate messages from his federal email account, according to the findings of a judicial review panel released Friday.
Former U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull sent emails to personal and professional contacts that showed disdain for blacks, Indians, Hispanics, women, certain religious faiths, liberal political leaders, and some emails contained inappropriate jokes about sexual orientation, the Judicial Council of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found.
Many of the emails also related to pending issues that could have come before Cebull’s court, such as immigration, gun control, civil rights, health care and environmental issues, the council found in its March 15, 2013, order.
The investigation looked at four years of Cebull’s personal correspondence sent from his official email account. Investigators also reviewed his past cases and interviewed witnesses.
The investigation found no evidence of bias in Cebull’s rulings or sentences, and the witnesses generally regarded him as a “good and honest trial lawyer, and an esteemed trial judge,” according to the report.
The 9th Circuit council issued 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 ordered him to issue a second public apology that would acknowledge “the breadth of his behavior.”
The panel said impeachment was not warranted because Cebull did not violate federal or state law, though two of the judges on the council said they would have asked for his resignation.
But none of the sanctions took effect and the findings did not become public until Friday on the order of a national judicial review panel.
Cebull announced his resignation March 29, 2013, two weeks after the judicial council issued its order.