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Cebull Review May Involve More than One Tasteless Joke
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Few people know what’s up with former chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull. The Montana judge resigned in March after the Judicial Council issued its first order to investigate him. One matter of complaint regarded a distasteful email he forwarded whose punchline was that President Barack Obama’s mom had sex with a dog. But there might be more to the misconduct allegations as they are continuing to this day, though he has already stepped down.

“I continue to believe that it has to be something more serious,” said professor Arthur D. Hellman, an expert of the federal judiciary, as reported. “The fact that the review process is continuing and that it has extended over this period of time suggests that. You don’t need a prolonged investigation like this to determine that one email constituted misconduct, particularly when that judge is no longer a judge.


“If my prior speculation is correct — that they found something more, and worse, than just this one email — then it could take (the national judicial conference) quite some time to review and possibly undertake additional investigation,” Hellman said.

Whether the public will ever now the nature of the misconduct is another matter. It is under seal as the national panel considers it for review. The two complaints of misconduct that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Council, in their July 2 order, was to make public Wednesday, after a 63-day review period, were not made so. Instead, questions regarding them were directed to a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington D.C.

“That is strong confirmation that a petition for review has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Conference, either by Judge Cebull himself or by another complainant, and that it is now under consideration by the conduct committee,” said Hellman. It could take a year before they decide the matter and at that point they might not even inform the public.

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“Certainly they have done a very thorough job up to this point on clamping down on public disclosure,” Hellman said. “What they may be debating is the very question about how much they can and should disclose.”



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