Chief Justice Roberts orders measures to prevent sexual harassment

By Ray Downs  |  Dec. 31, 2017 at 7:57 PM
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Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Chief Justice John Roberts said in his 2017 State of the Judiciary Report on Sunday that the Supreme Court will evaluate measures to protect federal court employees from sexual harassment in the workplace.

"Events in recent months have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, and events in the past few weeks have made clear that the judicial branch is not immune," Roberts wrote. "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 said he ordered the creation of a working group "to examine our practices and address these issues."

"I expect the working group to consider whether changes are needed in our codes of conduct, our guidance to employees -- including law clerks -- on issues of confidentiality and reporting of instances of misconduct, our educational programs, and our rules for investigating and processing misconduct complaints," Roberts wrote.

Roberts' comments come after the immediate retirement of Alex Kozinski, a former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Multiple female clerks accused Kozinski of lewd and inappropriate behavior in the workplace, including sexual comment and inappropriate touching.

In his retirement statement, Kozinski apologized for his behavior and said he had been misunderstood.

"I've always had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks alike," he wrote, according to The New York Times. "In doing so, I may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace."

Roberts said sexual harassment issues in the courts "warrant serious attention from all quarters of the judicial branch."

"I have great confidence in the men and women who comprise our judiciary. 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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