Investigators: Montana judge’s racist Obama email just one of hundreds

By Arturo Garcia
Friday, January 17, 2014 20:21 EDT
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Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull (KTVQ screen grab)
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A federal judicial panel revealed on Friday that a former federal judge’s email suggesting President Barack Obama’s mother had sex with a dog was one of hundreds showing “disdain for African Americans and Hispanics,” the Billings Gazette reported.

The March 2013 report from the Judicial Council of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals traced Richard Cebull’s proclivity for sending racist and sexist material back to 2008. Cebull, a former U.S. District Court Judge, was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

The probe discovered that Cebull violated the second and fifth canons of the judicial code of conduct barring judges from political activity, as he sent several emails “related to pending legislation or an issue that could come before the courts, such as immigration, gun control, civil rights, health care or environmental matters.” Other messages contained “inappropriate jokes relating to sexual orientation,” particular “disdain” for undocumented Latino immigrants, “certain faiths,” and “liberal political leaders.” Other emails focused on “sexual topics and were disparaging of women.”

Cebull was investigated after admitting that he forwarded the derogatory email about Obama from his courthouse chambers, telling the six recipients that, “I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.” The email was forwarded to the Great Falls Tribune, which reported on its content.

At the time, Cebull denied that he was a racist, stating that he sent the message because it was “anti-Obama,” and defended his judicial record. A special committee convened by the 9th Circuit Court ruled that rulings dating back to 2005 showed “no evidence of bias against nonwhite defendants.” The committee also reviewed more than 25 witnesses, some of whom pointed out that Cebull went out of his way to be considerate of Native Americans brought before him, including allowing for tribal rituals to be performed during incarceration.

However, the committee also reported that, “A few witnesses commented that given the small number of judges in the District of Montana and the close-knit legal community, lawyers might be reluctant to make negative comments about Judge Cebull, even anonymously.”

Cebull retired in May 2013, before the order against him could be enforced.

[Image via KTVQ-TV]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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