ScandalSupreme Court

Trump-appointed judge resigns after report on ‘sexualized relationship’ with law clerk and hostile work environment

U.S. District Judge Joshua M. Kindred in Alaska stepped down after a federal judicial council asked him to resign voluntarily following an investigation into misconduct allegations.

A federal judge in Alaska resigned Monday after an investigation found that he had an inappropriate relationship with a law clerk and then lied about it, in addition to creating a hostile work environment that included graphic sexual remarks to colleagues.

The Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit asked U.S. District Judge Joshua M. Kindred, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump, to resign voluntarily over misconduct allegations that it said involved engaging in an “inappropriately sexualized relationship” with a law clerk that continued briefly into her time as an assistant U.S. attorney in Alaska.

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The allegations described in a 30-page court order from May, publicly released Monday, were first detailed in a lengthy report by a special committee that Chief Circuit Judge Mary H. Murguia appointed early last year to probe Kindred’s conduct after allegations dating to 2022 were made.

“We conclude that Judge Kindred’s misconduct was pervasive and abusive, constituted sexual harassment, and fostered a hostile work environment that took a personal and professional toll on multiple clerks,” the council wrote.

Joshua Kindred senate confirmation hearing
Joshua M. Kindred during a judicial nomination hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Dec. 4, 2019.Senate Judiciary Committee via Reuters file


Kindred submitted his resignation letter to President Joe Biden last week, saying he would step down Monday.The court order cited an incident in October 2022 in which Kindred is alleged to have kissed a former law clerk and grabbed her rear after he asked her to get drinks with him shortly after she left her clerkship and began work at the U.S. attorney’s office.

The order cites a second incident in which Kindred was accused of “putting his hands on me” and performing oral sex on the law clerk after having urged her to join him at an associate’s apartment.

The order refers to interviews with Kindred’s clerks and judiciary employees, as well as hundreds of pages of text messages detailing his inappropriate conduct, including discussions about his dating life and the law clerks’ boyfriends and dating lives and disparaging remarks about his colleagues.

It also said that Kindred “had no hesitation in using language that was inappropriate in a professional setting, such as encouraging rating people based on ‘f—ability,’ stating that he was not ‘hoe-ignorant,’ or telling stories about ‘giving b— jobs in a hot tub.’ In the few instances where clerks came to Judge Kindred to discuss his inappropriate behavior, they were belittled or ostracized, and, in one instance, a clerk left the clerkship.”

The investigative report said Kindred made false statements and “obstructed, influenced, and impeded” its proceedings about the encounters with the law clerk.

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In a nine-page written response to the investigation, Kindred said that he had “failed to exercise appropriate boundaries and crossed lines I should not have crossed” and that his relationship with the law clerk “was not something that was born out of something sinister.”

Kindred could not be reached for comment Monday night. Reached for comment, a court official referred NBC News to the 30-page judicial order.

Murguia said in a statement that the investigation was focused on “promoting a civil and respectful workplace, free of discrimination and harassment, and maintaining the integrity of the Judiciary.”

“The process seeks to preserve the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts. In all respects, this was a serious and sensitive matter,” Murguia said.

The Senate confirmed Kindred in 2020 in a 54-41 vote that broke down mostly along party lines. No Republicans voted against his nomination.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Monday night on X that it was “more than appropriate” that Kindred resign.

“Based on the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit’s Order and Certification, it is more than appropriate that Mr. Kindred tendered his resignation. Judges need to be held to the highest of standards and Mr. Kindred fell well short of that mark,” she wrote. “I will be working quickly to advance a replacement nominee for consideration.”

Source: NBC News