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Montana - Calls for Resignation of Judge Who Sent Racist Email about Obama

Published on: March 1, 2012 08:35 PM
By: AP
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U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull of Montana is under fire for sending a racially charged email about President Barack Obama. Cebull said the message reflected his political views, but denied he’s a racist. (James Woodcock/AP)U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull of Montana is under fire for sending a racially charged email about President Barack Obama. Cebull said the message reflected his political views, but denied he’s a racist. (James Woodcock/AP)

Montana - An appellate court will conduct a judicial misconduct review of Montana’s chief federal judge, who sent an email to friends that contained a racist joke involving bestiality and President Barack Obama’s mother.

Judge Richard Cebull also plans to send Obama a formal apology, but that has not stopped calls for the judge’s resignation.

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“If he has any respect for his office and for ideals of equality and human dignity on which our country was founded, Judge Cebull will step down today,” said Bob Edgar, the president and chief executive of Common Cause.

Common Cause filed a complaint Thursday against Cebull with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Cebull also asked for a review by the appellate court, effectively filing a complaint against himself.

The appellate court’s judicial council will lead the investigation and “is expected to act expeditiously,” court executive Cathy Catterson said in a statement.

Cebull’s apology plans were confirmed by Jed Link, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, who spoke by phone with Cebull.

“Judge Cebull apologized and Denny took his apology to be heartfelt and sincere. Judge Cebull also indicated that he is sending a formal apology to President Obama and that he is asking the 9th Circuit to review the matter,” Link said.

Cebull on Wednesday admitted that he forwarded the email Feb. 20, but he told The Great Falls Tribune newspaper that he did so because he disliked Obama, not from racism.

Cebull told the newspaper that his brother sent him the email, and he passed it on to six “old buddies” and acquaintances. It began with the preface: “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.”

Cebull told the Billings Gazette that he did not write that preface. He said that he has treated all people in his courtroom fairly and he has not heard any complaints otherwise.

“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 told the Great Falls newspaper. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.”

Cebull did not return calls from The Associated Press.
The Montana Human Rights Network has started an online petition in its website calling for Cebull’s resignation, writing “this behavior is simply not befitting of a judge.”

Congress can remove a federal judge for misconduct by impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate confirmation, but such action is rare.

State Bar of Montana president Shane Vannatta called the email inappropriate and said he understands why people are disturbed.

“We want the public to be able to respect and trust our judicial system,” Vannatta said in a statement.

According to the 9th Circuit’s rules on misconduct proceedings, the judicial council can dismiss the complaint if it is found to be inappropriate or if corrective action has been taken.

Otherwise, the counsel has the ability to censure or reprimand the judge, order that no new cases be assigned to him for a designated period of time, or ask the judge to retire.

The council may also refer the matter to the Judicial Conference of the United States if the conduct may constitute grounds for impeachment.

Assistant Circuit Executive David Madden said he does not believe a dismissal is likely in Cebull’s case because the complaint was self-initiated.

Madden also said that he expects Cebull to remain on the bench while the complaint is being reviewed.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a press briefing Thursday that he did not know whether Obama was aware of Cebull’s email.

Cebull’s dislike of Obama reflects some Montanans’ views of the president and the backlash to his key policies. A Montana State University-Billings poll in October found that Obama had a 32 percent approval rating in the state, and only 21 percent thought he was doing a good job managing the economy.

Cebull was a Billings attorney for nearly 30 years, specializing in medical malpractice work. He became the U.S. magistrate in Great Falls in 1998, and then received a bipartisan recommendation from Montana Sens. Max Baucus, a Democrat, and Conrad Burns, a Republican, to replace U.S. District Judge Jack Shanstrom.

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


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Read Comments (18)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 01, 2012 at 08:46 PM MosheM Says:

He made a joke in good taste.

2

 Mar 01, 2012 at 08:49 PM Anonymous Says:

If he'd said it about President Bush they'd have given him an award. It wasn't smart or decent, and in his position he shouldn't have done it but it's OK to to insult Republicans? Let's have some balance & fairness!

(Now THAT is a funny joke!)

3

 Mar 01, 2012 at 08:53 PM Thoughtful Says:

Isn't it pathetic that these self proclaimed civil rights/human rights phonies were nowhere to be found while the most vicious vile and hateful rhetoric were directed continuously at presiden bush??? Simply Amazing....

4

 Mar 01, 2012 at 09:31 PM YidelfromBP Says:

So here is how it works!

If a Judge is forwarding something that is touching the dignity or upsetting King Obama then the Judge needs to be fired IMMEDIATELY!! And a online Petition set up

BUT...

If Judge Linda Reade in IA is showing right out anti semitizem on the largest governmental immigration Raid case
and a online petition is producing over 25,000 signatures then.....???? The WH responds is: we cannot mingle in LOCAL judicial issues... What a crook!!

5

 Mar 01, 2012 at 09:45 PM Anonymous Says:

He was an idiot and it is conduct unbecoming a judge.

6

 Mar 01, 2012 at 11:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
YidelfromBP Says:

So here is how it works!

If a Judge is forwarding something that is touching the dignity or upsetting King Obama then the Judge needs to be fired IMMEDIATELY!! And a online Petition set up

BUT...

If Judge Linda Reade in IA is showing right out anti semitizem on the largest governmental immigration Raid case
and a online petition is producing over 25,000 signatures then.....???? The WH responds is: we cannot mingle in LOCAL judicial issues... What a crook!!

anti-semitizem? Seriously?

So you think a guy who lied and committed fraud and got caught should be set free because he got a lot of signatures on a petition? all that petition proved was that there are at least 25,000 gullible and naive Jews, not that a petition is a basis to let someone out of jail.

If Levi Aron somehow got 25,000 people to sign a petition, do you think he should be let out of jail as well?

7

 Mar 02, 2012 at 12:03 AM esther Says:

Reply to #1  
MosheM Says:

He made a joke in good taste.

that's disgusting.did you read the story.? at least one must that a public official sending emails like that is just dumb.a judge with poor judgement.

8

 Mar 02, 2012 at 01:56 AM leahle Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

If he'd said it about President Bush they'd have given him an award. It wasn't smart or decent, and in his position he shouldn't have done it but it's OK to to insult Republicans? Let's have some balance & fairness!

(Now THAT is a funny joke!)

Do you know what the "joke" was? I do, and it was disgusting. I don't recall people commenting on Barbara Bush having relations with a dog, just on her son being incompetent and not very bright. It doesn't matter, anyway, because you cannot justify one wrong with another. A judge, especially at the federal level, is required to not only be impartial, but also to avoid conduct that gives the appearance of not being impartial. This was not conduct becoming a member of the judiciary.

9

 Mar 02, 2012 at 02:04 AM YidelfromBP Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

anti-semitizem? Seriously?

So you think a guy who lied and committed fraud and got caught should be set free because he got a lot of signatures on a petition? all that petition proved was that there are at least 25,000 gullible and naive Jews, not that a petition is a basis to let someone out of jail.

If Levi Aron somehow got 25,000 people to sign a petition, do you think he should be let out of jail as well?

Reply to#6

First cool it down!

#2 did I suggest in my post to set Rubashkin free?
Are you not aware of the facts in the case? To name a few:

Prosecutors asked for 25 years she granted him 27 1/2, (out of love for a jewish person...ha?)

He was a first time offender on a white color crime,

She was part of the planing of the raid
Therefore she shouldn't of been the judge on the case.

83 immigration charges were dropped.

Tens of CFO's from large and well known company's committed the same exact crime the past 10 years and the longest prison time they got is 6 years.
6 former Attorney generals and over 30 congress members agree with ME that she was very harsh and completely over the top with the sentencing guidelines

In responds to your bright and intelligent comparison:

how in world are you comparing 25,000 petitions for Rubashkin to "Levi Aron Murderer" what an idiotic comparison!

Go get a live and a education!
(Starting from kindergarten...)

10

 Mar 02, 2012 at 03:29 AM c Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

anti-semitizem? Seriously?

So you think a guy who lied and committed fraud and got caught should be set free because he got a lot of signatures on a petition? all that petition proved was that there are at least 25,000 gullible and naive Jews, not that a petition is a basis to let someone out of jail.

If Levi Aron somehow got 25,000 people to sign a petition, do you think he should be let out of jail as well?

And how about obama didnt otherise to extradite a merder and a rapest to his country cause he might get overthre deth penilty

11

 Mar 02, 2012 at 06:50 AM Greener Says:

Reply to #4  
YidelfromBP Says:

So here is how it works!

If a Judge is forwarding something that is touching the dignity or upsetting King Obama then the Judge needs to be fired IMMEDIATELY!! And a online Petition set up

BUT...

If Judge Linda Reade in IA is showing right out anti semitizem on the largest governmental immigration Raid case
and a online petition is producing over 25,000 signatures then.....???? The WH responds is: we cannot mingle in LOCAL judicial issues... What a crook!!

Your comparison is stupid. SMR was found guilty by a jury for his crooked behavior. Linda Reade was only doing her job. On line petitions signed by 25,000 frum people don't make someone innocent.

12

 Mar 02, 2012 at 07:04 AM yaakov321 Says:

I mean, is this from the back country mentality that we find in these less populated states? Is this the type of man we elect to higher office today? Outrageous.

13

 Mar 02, 2012 at 08:20 AM Butterfly Says:

If any of us sent this email we would be in jail, why should the law be different for the judge? The laws are SUPPOSED to be EQUAL!!!!!!!!!!?????????.........Liberty & Justice for All?? Where did I read that??? It begins to sound like a crock of ------!! Our justice system needs overhauling and some of the justices should be thrown out!!

14

 Mar 02, 2012 at 08:41 AM yosefben Says:

As for Rubashkin and fraud? I thought that conviction came from the inability to pay back loans when the govmt used some archaic law dealing with cattle taxes that prevented him from accessing his own money...hence a trap!

As for the judges joke - I am not a big Pres Obama fan but as a former Marine, combat veteran, and Charedi I support maintaining the integrity and sanctity of the Executive Office of the US no matter who is President.

Also, I honestly would not want to be at the mercy of any judge if I knew he was making jokes about ANYONE's mother - that is so childish and reveals the level of his own integrity.

15

 Mar 02, 2012 at 09:34 AM Kim Li Says:

Reply to #9  
YidelfromBP Says:

Reply to#6

First cool it down!

#2 did I suggest in my post to set Rubashkin free?
Are you not aware of the facts in the case? To name a few:

Prosecutors asked for 25 years she granted him 27 1/2, (out of love for a jewish person...ha?)

He was a first time offender on a white color crime,

She was part of the planing of the raid
Therefore she shouldn't of been the judge on the case.

83 immigration charges were dropped.

Tens of CFO's from large and well known company's committed the same exact crime the past 10 years and the longest prison time they got is 6 years.
6 former Attorney generals and over 30 congress members agree with ME that she was very harsh and completely over the top with the sentencing guidelines

In responds to your bright and intelligent comparison:

how in world are you comparing 25,000 petitions for Rubashkin to "Levi Aron Murderer" what an idiotic comparison!

Go get a live and a education!
(Starting from kindergarten...)

A quick rebuttal of all your "facts"

"Prosecutors asked for 25 years she granted him 27 1/2, (out of love for a jewish person...ha?)"
-- She added 2 years because of perjury

"He was a first time offender on a white color crime"
-- The judge followed the federal sentencing guidelines which take those factors into account.

"She was part of the planing of the raid. Therefore she shouldn't of been the judge on the case."
-- That is your opinion. A court determined that this was not a problem.

"83 immigration charges were dropped."
-- He's in jail for financial fraud, not immigration charges

"Tens of CFO's from large and well known company's committed the same exact crime the past 10 years and the longest prison time they got is 6 years."
-- They all expressed remorse and cooperated with the investigation. Rubashking did neither.

"6 former Attorney generals and over 30 congress members agree with ME that she was very harsh and completely over the top with the sentencing guidelines."
-- They were criticizing the sentencing guidelines themselves, not the way in which she applied them.

Rubashkin is a ganav, who deserves to be where he is.

16

 Mar 02, 2012 at 09:35 AM Anonymous Says:

knowing the biggest liar that ever lived in the white house Rubashkin and Pollard will go free before elections so the Jews can say what a great man he is

17

 Mar 02, 2012 at 12:42 PM Avreich1 Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

knowing the biggest liar that ever lived in the white house Rubashkin and Pollard will go free before elections so the Jews can say what a great man he is

Dream on!

18

 Mar 02, 2012 at 03:02 PM leahle Says:

Reply to #12  
yaakov321 Says:

I mean, is this from the back country mentality that we find in these less populated states? Is this the type of man we elect to higher office today? Outrageous.

Federal judges are not elected - they are appointed for life by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

19

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