Groups want to see Montana judge's racist emails

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 2, 2014 at 6:01 pm •  Published: July 2, 2014
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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A group of American Indians wants a court to preserve and eventually release an investigative file containing inappropriate emails sent by a federal judge, including a racist message involving President Barack Obama.

Two Indian advocacy groups from Montana and South Dakota and a member of the Crow tribe filed a petition in U.S. District Court in California asking for the file to be preserved as evidence.

The groups want to know if Chief District Judge Richard Cebull made biased decisions from the bench. Their next step will be to file a lawsuit seeking public release of the documents, plaintiffs' attorney Lawrence Organ said Wednesday.

Cebull was investigated after forwarding a racist message involving Obama. A judicial review panel found he sent hundreds of emails from his federal account that showed disdain for blacks, Indians, Hispanics, women, certain religions and others. He was publicly reprimanded and retired last year.

The investigation found no evidence of bias in his rulings. Organ said the only way to know that for sure is through the release of the emails.

"The fundamental principles of our entire legal system fall apart if a judge doesn't come in with a neutral position," Organ said. "If there are other decision makers involved, we're not asking for their private email accounts. All we want to see are the emails accounts they used as government officials."

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said its file on Cebull is confidential.

Plaintiffs in the case are South Dakota-based advocacy group Four Directions, Montana-based Indian People's Action, and Sara Plains Feather, a member of southeastern Montana's Crow Tribe.



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