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U.S. Judge Joshua M. Kindred resigned after sexual misconduct investigation

Internashonal

U.S. Judge Joshua M. Kindred resigned after sexual misconduct investigation


A federal judge in Alaska resigned from his lifetime appointment after an internal investigation concluded he created a hostile work environment for his law clerks and engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of them after her clerkship ended, according to a judicial conduct report released Monday.

The report details two separate sexual encounters in October 2022 between U.S. District Judge Joshua M. Kindred and the former law clerk shortly after she began working as a federal prosecutor. It says they exchanged nearly 300 pages of text messages over an 11-month period.

The report accuses Kindred, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska in 2019 by President Donald Trump, of discussing his divorce, dating life, sex life and romantic preferences as well as his law clerks’ boyfriends and dating lives, among other topics.

Kindred encouraged his law clerks to rate people based on their sexual desirability, the report said, and belittled or ostracized clerks who tried to talk to him about his inappropriate behavior.

The 9th Circuit Judicial Council asked Kindred to resign after concluding that he violated the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act and the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. The council also referred the matter to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking body of the U.S. Courts, to consider impeachment.

On Wednesday, Kindred submitted his two-sentence resignation letter to President Biden, who will have the opportunity to nominate a successor.

“Based on the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit’s Order and Certification, it is more than appropriate that Mr. Kindred tendered his resignation,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), the senior senator from Alaska, said in a statement on X on Monday evening. “Judges need to be held to the highest of standards and Mr. Kindred fell well short of that mark. I will be working quickly to advance a replacement nominee for consideration.”

Judiciary leaders have sought to encourage more courthouse employees to report misconduct ever since Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California retired in 2017 amid allegations of workplace sexual misconduct.

“The Judiciary is entrusted to self-govern and, in doing so, must hold its federal judges to the highest standards of integrity and impartiality. We take judicial misconduct complaints seriously,” Chief Judge Mary H. Murguia, who initiated the misconduct investigation into Kindred, said in a statement accompanying the report.

Kindred’s resignation leaves just one active, full-time federal judge in Alaska: Chief Judge Sharon L. Gleason. District clerk Candice Duncan said in a statement posted on the court’s website Friday that Kindred’s caseload will be reassigned to Gleason and Judge Timothy M. Burgess, who has assumed senior status — a form of semi-retirement that creates a vacancy on the court.

Trump tapped Kindred in 2019 to replace U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline, who assumed senior status in 2015. The League of Conservation Voters, the nation’s top environmental group, opposed Kindred’s nomination, citing concerns about his time as environmental counsel for the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.

Kindred was confirmed by the Senate in 2020, in a 54-41 vote that fell mostly along party lines. Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), who at the time still identified as Democrats but have since become independents, joined Republicans to help push Kindred’s confirmation through.

In January, Kindred dismissed a lawsuit seeking to bar Trump from appearing on Alaska’s November election ballot, citing technical issues with the lawsuit, including lack of jurisdiction.

Before his appointment to the bench, Kindred also worked in the Office of the Regional Solicitor and as a federal prosecutor in the Anchorage district attorney’s office.



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