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Tag: richard cebull

Column: Criminal Justice Prof Would Sign Petition to Pressure Fed Judge to Resign Over Racist Joke

Marvin Zalman is a professor in the Criminal Justice Department at Wayne State University. He teaches classes on constitutional criminal procedure, criminal justice policy and wrongful convictions. He was commenting on a column about a  racist joke that Chief Judge Richard Cebull circulated via email.

Prof Marvin Zalman

By Marvin Zalman

I too was outraged by the racist remarks of Judge Richard Cebull.

As one who respects judicial independence and appreciates the ways in which our justice system is, in its own peculiar way, political, I would oppose any move to impeach the judge, although I believe that Circuit sanctioning is possible.

I find your comment, however, to be one that I could agree with. Namely, I’d sign a petition asking/calling for the judge to resign depending on the language of such a petition and the organization calling for his resignation.

Federal judges have to be given the widest latitude for diverse opinions and views, and in my view should never be subjected to impeachment threats (other than for bribery or other real crimes) no matter how odious their views.

On the other hand, there are lines that are so bright they should never be crossed and when this happens public pressure to resign is appropriate.

I’m not so naive as to think that calls for resignation would not be manipulated by political operatives, but that is a long way from members of Congress (from those who voted to impeach Justice Chase to Tom DeLay) trying to impose their particular ideology on the courts.


Chief Fed Judge Circulates Racist Joke About President Obama


Judge Richard Cebull/wikipedia

By Allan Lengel

It’s hard to imagine the chief federal judge in any district being so ignorant as to taint the bench and raise serious questions about the ability to be objective.

Well, meet Chief Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench in  Montana. Apparently he admitted Wednesday, according to press reports, to sending a racist email around that goes like this:

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email 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!’” […]

The website Think Progress Justice reported that Cebull forwarded the joke from his brother to a half dozen friends 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, according to the website. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.“

USA Today reported that he sent a formal apology to the President, which said:

“I sincerely and profusely apologize to you and your family for the email I forwarded. I accept full responsibility; I have no one to blame but myself. I can assure you that such action on my part will never happen again. I have requested that the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit review this matter. Honestly, I don’t know what else I can do. Please forgive me and, again, my most sincere apology.”

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said in a statement: “Chief Judge Richard Cebull’s email was deplorable, shameful and inexcusable. There is no way to shroud hatred under the cloak of differences in ideals. The email was blatantly racist and filled with the hateful rhetoric this country has strived so desperately to leave behind. An apology alone is not acceptable.”



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