Common Cause files complaint against U.S. Judge Richard Cebull

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  • Dale Eisman

Action Follows Call for Resignation of Montana Jurist

Common Cause filed a formal complaint today against U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, accusing him of violating federal judicial canons and of conduct “prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts.”

The judge’s dissemination through email of a “joke” concerning President Barack Obama and the President’s mother included “racially and sexually demeaning commentary,” a statement of facts accompanying the complaint charged.

“Litigants of all backgrounds, races, and ethnicities, and those with cases concerning actions of the Obama administration, have ample reason to question whether Judge Cebull’s conduct and words promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary,” the statement added.

Signed by Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, the complaint against Judge Cebull was lodged with the Judicial Council of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit includes Montana, where Judge Cebull is the senior federal district judge.

Common Cause also has called on Judge Cebull to resign.

Judge Cebull acknowledged on Wednesday that after receiving the email he forwarded it to several friends. He said his actions reflected “poor judgment.”

Like all federal district, circuit and Supreme Court judges, Judge Cebull has a lifetime appointment and can be forced from office only through impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate. Federal circuit courts like the 9th Circuit have limited authority to discipline district judges within their circuits however.