CREDIT: AP Photo/United States District Court District of Montana
A former federal judge who retired after reports revealed that he sent a racist email comparing President Obama’s conception to bestiality sent hundreds of other racist and discriminatory emails from his work account, according to a newly released judicial opinion.
Other emails sent by former U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull while sitting on the bench involved “disdain” against a range of racial groups, women, religious faiths, and and and jokes about policy issues that were the subject of pending legislation and might come before the court. The opinion from the Committee On Judicial Conduct And Disability Of The Judicial Conference of the United States explained:
The majority of the emails were political in nature. Whether they were cast as jokes or serious commentary, the emails showed disdain and disrespect for liberal political leaders. A significant number of emails were race related. Whether cast as jokes or serious commentary, the emails showed disdain and disrespect for African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics, especially those who are not in the United States legally. A similarly significant number of emails related to religion and showed disdain for certain faiths. Approximately the same number of emails concerned women and/or sexual topics and were disparaging of women. A few emails contained inappropriate jokes relating to sexual orientation. Finally, a large number of emails related to pending legislation or an issue that could come before the court, such as immigration, gun control, civil rights, health care or environmental matters.
Former Chief Judge Cebull was a George W. Bush appointee who heard cases in the federal district court in Montana for more than a decade. Cebull apologized after reports surfaced about the initial email, but said he did not intend for the email to be racist; merely anti-Obama. Cebull told the judicial panel that the “public shaming has been a life-altering experience” and that he was “acutely aware that each day in my court is the most important day in someone’s life.”
The Judicial Conference did not find evidence of bias in his judicial opinions, but ordered sanctions short of his removal from the bench for the grave appearance of bias before he retired voluntarily. Sentencing expert Douglas Berman said in a blog post Friday that he was “not at all surprised that an investigation by other judges reached the (self-serving) conclusion that there was ‘no evidence of bias in Cebull’s rulings or sentences’,” but that defendants should nonetheless use the findings to seek re-sentencing. “In my view,” he said, “any defendant (especially any female or minority defendant) still sitting in federal prison unhappy with a past sentencing decision made by Judge Cebull could and should use this new report to at least request a focused review of any of his specific sentencing outcomes.”