Did former U.S. Chief District Judge Richard Cebull – who forwarded a racist email about President Barack Obama – make biased decisions while on the bench?
Indian advocacy groups in Montana and South Dakota, and a member of the Crow Tribe, want to know, and are asking a court to preserve and eventually release an investigative file containing inappropriate emails sent by Cebull.
Associated Press reporter Matthew Brown reported that Indian People’s Action of Montana, Four Directions of South Dakota, and Sara Plains Feather, a member of Montana’s Crow Tribe, filed the petition in U.S. District Court in California.
Cebull was investigated after forwarding a racist message involving Obama. A judicial review panel found he sent hundreds of emails from his federal account that showed disdain for blacks, Indians, Hispanics, women, certain religions and others. He was publicly reprimanded and retired last year.
The investigation found no evidence of bias in his rulings. (Plaintiffs’ attorney Lawrence) Organ said the only way to know that for sure is through the release of the emails.
“The fundamental principles of our entire legal system fall apart if a judge doesn’t come in with a neutral position,” Organ said. “If there are other decision-makers involved, we’re not asking for their private email accounts. All we want to see are the email accounts they used as government officials.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said the file is confidential.
Brown reported that Four Directions was involved in a voting rights lawsuit in which Cebull ruled against the Indian plaintiffs. The 9th Circuit later overturned his ruling.