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Chief justice orders review of sexual harassment standards in U.S. judiciary

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Not having an overwhelming knowledge of the complete structure of the United States Judiciary, the first thing I asked myself was, “Can Chief Justice John Roberts do this?”  To my somewhat muted surprise I discovered that indeed, he sure can.

Without going into a lot of detail about the organization of the Judiciary, suffice it to know that within the administrative branch of the Judiciary falls the “Federal Judicial Center”, which is the primary research and education agency for the U.S. federal courts.  The Center includes several offices and divisions, all of which are presided over by a board of nine members.  The chair of the board is none other than Chief Justice John Roberts.  There you have it.

Satisfying myself to the question of authority for the review of the Judiciary’s standards of conduct on sexual harassment, the big question then surfaced…What are the implications for the rest of the country if the findings and recommendations result in something “larger than life” and radically different from what the other branches of the federal government currently have in place, not to mention the standards that state/local governments use?

I must confess that I am not sure what will happen, but a feeling in my gut tells me that there would be, and probably will be, changes for everybody coming out of this review.

Let’s assume that big changes are made and that some, or at least one, lawsuit makes its way to the Supreme Court following endless appeals.  Will the Chief Justice, and perhaps other justices, apply the Judiciary’s new standards, processes, and procedures into their thinking and subsequent decision?

If they did, can we assume that changes would probably be made in the other branches of the federal government and that a tsunami of legal changes would also roll over the states as well?

Only time will tell, but I personally believe that this small action will eventually get some legs, good, bad, or indifferent…


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts said on Sunday he would launch a review in 2018 of how the federal judiciary handles sexual harassment, following the recent resignation of a U.S. appeals court judge amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct and comments.

In his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary, Roberts said the judicial branch of government was not immune to incidents of sexual harassment and addressing it would be a new challenge in the coming year.

Allegations of systematic sexual harassment and assault that surfaced against movie producer Harvey Weinstein earlier this year galvanized women to speak out about instances of sexual harassment in the media, government and workplaces across the country.

Earlier this month, renowned San Francisco-based federal appeals judge Alex Kozinski, 67, retired from his lifetime appointment after over a dozen women came forward to accuse him of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Kozinski said that while friends and family had urged him to stay on and defend himself, he could not “be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle.” Reuters has not verified any of the accusations.

“The judiciary will begin 2018 by undertaking a careful evaluation of whether its standards of conduct and its procedures for investigating and correcting inappropriate behavior are adequate to ensure an exemplary workplace for every judge and every court employee,” Roberts wrote in his report.

Roberts said he asked the federal judiciary’s director of the administrative office to form a working group to examine the courts’ practices and recommend necessary changes to codes of conduct, employee guidance on reporting misconduct and its own rules for investigating complaints.

“I am sure that the overwhelming number have no tolerance for harassment and share the view that victims must have clear and immediate recourse to effective remedies,” he wrote.


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