Federal judge who forwarded racist Obama joke to step down

2012-10-05T06:00:00Z 2013-09-05T05:56:54Z Federal judge who forwarded racist Obama joke to step downThe Associated Press The Associated Press
October 05, 2012 6:00 am  • 

HELENA – A judge who forwarded a racist joke involving President Barack Obama plans to take a reduced caseload starting next year and step down as the chief federal judge for Montana, a U.S. Courts spokeswoman said Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull of Billings will take senior status March 18, courts spokesman Karen Redmond said.

That will create a vacancy about a year after Cebull asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to open an investigation into his conduct over the email that included a joke about bestiality and Obama’s mother. Cebull requested the probe after news about the email became public.

That investigation is not complete and may not be related to Cebull’s decision, 9th Circuit spokesman David Madden said. It is not unusual for a judge to take senior status when he is eligible to do so, Madden said.

“You have this issue out here, and I can see how people would want to relate it, but there are a lot of other factors in play,” Madden said.

Cebull did not return a call to his chambers Thursday.

A judge can take senior status when he or she is 65 or older and has at least 15 years on the bench. A judge with senior status takes a reduced caseload but still draws a salary and can keep a staff of four.

Cebull will vacate his position as chief judge for the state and allow the president to appoint a replacement. That is one of the benefits of senior status: it means adding a judge to the state, Madden said.

Cebull previously admitted he forwarded the email to a half-dozen people Feb. 20 after receiving it from his brother, telling the Great Falls Tribune newspaper that he did so because he disliked Obama, not from racism.

After the story surfaced, Cebull wrote Obama a letter of apology and asked the federal appellate court to investigate his conduct.

Two groups also demanded an investigation. One of them, the Montana Human Rights Network, started an online petition calling for Cebull’s resignation, writing that “this behavior is simply not befitting of a judge.”

People For the American Way, another group demanding that Cebull step down, said Thursday it is not enough for the judge to take senior status. The group called on Cebull to resign or retire immediately.

Madden said a special panel investigating the matter has met several times. Cebull’s decision should not affect the panel’s work, he said.

“I believe that they will conclude their investigation,” Madden said.

Cebull was a Billings attorney for nearly 30 years before becoming a U.S. magistrate in Great Falls in 1998.

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

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(14) Comments

  1. mtmike
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    mtmike - October 05, 2012 3:54 pm
    The usual subjects foaming at the mouth, lmao.
  2. Stillmike Miller
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    Stillmike Miller - October 05, 2012 12:37 pm
    SO true, Linux!
  3. Texas Susie
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    Texas Susie - October 05, 2012 8:01 am
    dsrobins:: Please apologize to the pigs for comparing that judge and his racial email with a pig. I owned a bunch of pigs, and they had brains between their ears.
  4. hcamper
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    hcamper - October 05, 2012 7:56 am
    Personally I think it is funny as heck. It is a slam towards Obama;s mother, and could easily be told in reference to anyone, especially those the teller is not fond of. The joke has nothing to do with color - only judgment while drinking impaired. The is a tiny stain on the fabric of an otherwise stellar public service career. Get a sense of humor people. Not everything is about politics and religion.
  5. Still Here
    Report Abuse
    Still Here - October 05, 2012 7:46 am
    The idea that he will still be on the Federal bench is WRONG. In on bad decision he , Judge Cebull, has opened the door for up appeals in his court. When a person is Honored with an appointment to a position of respect and power, he is held to a great stand, that is the way it has to be. If anyone in a position of power over others, uses such poor judgement they need to step down.
  6. LinuxL3wis
    Report Abuse
    LinuxL3wis - October 05, 2012 7:25 am
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Countries ✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Towns ✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Neighbourhoods ✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Schools✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Anything ✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Children.

    “Anti-Racists” haven’t told asian children in Asia or African children in
    Africa that THEY must be blended out of existence to “end racism”. No No No! This special type of GLOBAL GENOCIDE is limited only to WHITE CHILDREN.

    Anti-Racist is a code word for Anti-White
  7. Cato
    Report Abuse
    Cato - October 04, 2012 10:39 pm
  8. Stillmike Miller
    Report Abuse
    Stillmike Miller - October 04, 2012 10:33 pm
    Since when does a reference to beastiality become racist? Seriously, people. Stop going to sensitivity classes.
  9. Stillmike Miller
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    Stillmike Miller - October 04, 2012 10:32 pm
    dsrobins, clearly that is a racist statement you just made by referring to the judge by an animal term! Using your own analogy of course realting to the judge's e mail. dsrobins, you are a racist!
  10. Alan Johnson
    Report Abuse
    Alan Johnson - October 04, 2012 8:05 pm
    Here's the actual joke:

    “A little boy said to his mother, ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’ His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’ ”

    Seems racist enough to me. So is it that "libtards" think every joke about Obama is racist, or conservatard that think as long as it's about Obama, it's not racist.
  11. hcamper
    Report Abuse
    hcamper - October 04, 2012 5:31 pm
    A racist bigot and a pig? You comment has zero credibility when framed like that.
  12. elkguy
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    elkguy - October 04, 2012 4:55 pm
    It wasn't a racial joke, it was a obama joke. Not the same, but as usual any time someone says something bad about him the libtards all start jumping up and down and screaming racist. Idiots.
  13. dsrobins
    Report Abuse
    dsrobins - October 04, 2012 2:37 pm
    Judge Cebull is a proven racist bigot and a pig. He has disgraced the federal judiciary by his actions and should step down immediately. Montana deserves better than bigots like him.
  14. pl
    Report Abuse
    pl - October 04, 2012 2:37 pm
    Not surprised he would enjoy a racist joke since he looks like Col. Sanders.
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