Cebull Resignation/Impeachment Petitions Update

When I first looked at the internets regarding public discontent regarding Richard Cebull’s lack of professional judgment, (Cebull Petitions Pepper The Internet- And They Should) there were 5 petitions circulating in the informational ether.

Now, the number is up. On Change.org alone there are 10.

Will anything happen? Will the complaint by the Montana GOP (against Senators Baucus and Tester for filing an investigation request with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to take a look) get any traction? Will the story just fade away?

Nope.

Not as long as I have a computer and internet access….

Op Ed: Judge Cebull’s Email “Irreparably Damaged Ability, Impartiality of Federal Court”

A piece in today’s Missoulian by 6 UM Law School professors  gives us an excellent reason to keep up the calls for his resignation and/or dismissal: the irreparable damage to impartiality. Excerpt:

Racism and sexism work in pernicious ways. Although there are still open racists and sexists everywhere, thanks to the civil and women’s rights movements much of what we now see resides in more subtle institutional arrangements and private, informal interactions that define our daily existence. Racism and sexism lurk in systemic processes, in implicit understandings, in gestures and jokes. Hidden from the light of public scorn, they thrive in structural formalities, personal relationships and private interactions.

Every once in a while, we catch a rare glimpse of these manifestations. U.S. Chief District Judge Richard Cebull’s e-mail and equivocations provided the latest example. Sent an admittedly racist and misogynistic email, Cebull chose to promote it to others. And when caught having forwarded the disturbing message, Cebull tried to distinguish the email’s content from his intent and his act from his character, demonstrating a profound misunderstanding of racism and sexism.

I know that I certainly would not feel comfortable having him decide a case involving me- or anyone I know for that matter. I would probably be able to make a case- as would anyone who has spoken out against him- for recusal. I would feel suspicion and mistrust- and fear. Not the feelings a Federal Judge should engender….

More:

We acknowledge Cebull’s contributions to our profession. We also hear his contrition and recognize that we have all made mistakes. But his is not a simple lapse in judgment or momentary moral failing. As a federal district judge – the chief judge of Montana – the consequences of his actions are that racial and ethnic minorities, women and even people with whom he disagrees politically now have clear reason to question his ability to be fair and impartial when they appear in his court. The cynical may even try to exploit his revealed biases.

Cebull has irreparably compromised his ability to promote the independence, integrity and impartiality of the United States District Court in Montana.

Agreed. I just hope we can do something about it.

The Call For Cebull To Step Down Gets Louder- Petition Edition

Thanks to the folks at the Montana Human Rights Network, there’s now a petition. From The Great Falls Tribune:

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for...

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Travis McAdam, executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, said citizens from throughout Montana and across the country are flooding the organization’s phone lines and email inbox with angry calls for Cebull to be removed from his post as the state’s top federal judge.

“People are really angry and motivated and wanting to do something,” McAdam said Thursday.

The Montana Human Rights Network and other groups are now circulating online petitions calling for Cebull to resign.

“On February 20, the chief federal judge in Montana, Richard Cebull, forwarded an email to six individuals that included racist and misogynistic content. The content of this email dehumanizes people of color and women. People of color and women appearing before Judge Cebull will have valid concerns about his ability to treat them fairly,” the network petition reads in part.

“From the time story broke online (Wednesday) to this morning we had gotten dozens of emails through our website, and phone calls from people who are really wanting some way to register their real displeasure with the email the judge sent around and also really talking about ‘how can we lend our names to something to try to get the judge to resign?’” McAdams said.

The network also plans to file a formal ethics complaint with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The MHRN petition is here. 

UPDATE: CONGRESSIONAL TRI-CAUCUS CONDEMNS MONTANA JUDGE’S RACISM TOWARD OBAMA

Related articles

Racist Judge Makes The Washington Post

I was worried that the bestiality-inferring racist email sent by Federal Judge Richard Cebull of Billings might go unnoticed by most of the national media- thank God I was wrong.

The Washington Post today picked up the original GF Tribune story, as did the Los Angeles Times, which added this:

The Tribune said it received the email after it had been forwarded several times in a chain that began at its original recipients. Cebull said he was “surprised” it had been passed along with his name attached to it, the newspaper said.

The Colbert Report ticket

The Colbert Report ticket (Photo credit: eszter)

Again, he’s not sorry he did it, just sorry he got caught. And probably wondering which one of his buddies or (buddies friends) turned him in.

Dare I hope to see this story on tv tonight? -at least The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Cross your fingers, light a candle and forward, retweet and write about this as often as you can….

In any case, this story warrants two new categories here on the site: Hypocrisy At Work and Conduct Unbecoming.

MT Federal Judge Admits Racist Obama Email

Richard Cebull, Chief U.S. District Judge for the State of Montana has admitted he sent racially charged emails about the President to “a few close buddies” from his chambers. From USA Today:

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Cebull, of Billings, was nominated by former president George W. Bush and received his commission in 2001 and has served as chief judge for the District of Montana since 2008.

The subject line of the e-mail, which Cebull sent from his official courthouse e-mail address on Feb. 20 at 3:42 p.m., reads: “A MOM’S MEMORY.”

The forwarded text reads as follow:

“Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’ ” the e-mail joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’ “

Cebull admitted Wednesday to sending the e-mail to seven recipients, including his personal e-mail address. The judge acknowledged that the content of the e-mail was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the e-mail was intended to be a private communication.

“It was not intended by me in any way to become public,” Cebull said. “I apologize to anybody who is offended by it and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.”

Cebull said his brother initially sent him the e-mail, which he forwarded to six of his “old buddies” and acquaintances.

“The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan,” Cebull said. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.”

Travis McAdam, executive director for the Montana Human Rights Network, said the e-mail is highly racist rhetoric unbecoming of a federal judge.

“It’s one thing if the judge is not a fan of President Barack Obama, but you would think someone in his position would articulate that in a way that criticizes his policy decisions or his position on issues,” McAdam said. “We have a hard time believing that a legitimate criticism of the president involves distributing a joke that basically compares African Americans with animals.”

Cebull said he does not consider himself prejudiced against people of other races or ethnic backgrounds, and that his actions in his courtroom have demonstrated that.

“This is a private thing that was, to say the least, very poor judgment on my part,” Cebull said. “I did not forward it because of the racist nature of it. Although it is racist, I’m not that way, never have been.”

The White House declined to comment Wednesday on the incident.

My two cents: Cebull’s statements don’t seem to indicate any remorse or regret- it’s simply an expression of the depth of prejudice that can’t distinguish between racism and partisanship. I think this needs to be a big deal- and he needs to go.

It’s disgusting.

Update The Bozeman Chronicle’s lead-in: Montana’s chief federal judge said Wednesday that he forwarded an email that contained a joke involving bestiality and President Barack Obama’s mother, but he did so because he dislikes the president and not because he’s racist.