Law | Politics

Federal judge in Montana sent hundreds of racist e-mails

A retired federal judge who sent a racist e-mail about President Barack Obama from his government account sent "hundreds" of inappropriate messages, including some about Native Americans, according to a report that was released on Friday.

The Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals investigated Richard Cebull after the initial e-mail was reported by The Great Falls Tribune. The probe turned up hundreds of other messages, most of which 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," the report said.

The investigation did not find any bias in Cebull's rulings against the groups targeted in his messages. However, the Judicial Conference said the former judge repeatedly violated the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.

Cebull is a former judge for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. His experience there appears to have had a positive effect on his treatment of Native American defendants.

"A number of witnesses who were friendly with Judge Cebull commented that they thought he made extra efforts to be fair to and accommodate Native Americans, including regularly approving their requests to conduct traditional rituals while incarcerated," the investigation stated.

Cebull was nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court in Montana by former president George W. Bush in 2001. He became chief judge of the court in 2008.

A family from the Crow Tribe adopted President Obama during his presidential campaign in 2008. The Crow Legislature passed a resolution that called on Congress to impeach Cebull, who stepped down in May 2013.

Get the Story:
Cebull probe finds more emails: Hundreds are related to 'race, politics, gender' (The Great Falls Tribune 1/18)
Montana federal judge sent hundreds of biased emails, panel finds (The Los Angeles Times 1/18)
Panel says Cebull sent hundreds of inappropriate emails (AP 1/17)

Relevant Documents:

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Probe of federal judge who sent racist email remains under seal (9/5)
Court delays action on retired judge over racist Obama email (5/14)
Montana federal judge who sent racist Obama email to retire (4/3)
Crow lawmakers call for removal of judge over racist email (3/20)
Editorial: Federal judge who sent racist email must step down (3/5)
9th Circuit to investigate judge who sent racist Obama e-mail (3/2)
Montana federal judge admits sending 'racist' Obama e-mail (2/29)

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