The 2,000-member California Women Lawyers filed a complaint Friday against U.S. District Judge A. Andrew Hauk, seeking an investigation into the judge’s “repeated public display of biased attitudes” after Hauk’s declaration this week that women are “soft touches . . . particularly when sex is involved.”
“There have been many other instances reported which reflect on Judge Hauk’s sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes,” the organization said in a complaint filed with Alfred T. Goodwin, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Janice Kamenir-Reznik, president of the group, said she has also contacted other minority and women’s Bar groups to join in the request and to ask the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the 76-year-old jurist, one of the most senior judges on the Los Angeles federal bench.
Lawyer Gloria Allred, mentioned in passing during the judge’s remarks before sentencing a 24-year-old woman on bank robbery charges, issued a separate statement calling for Hauk to disqualify himself from hearing any discrimination cases.
“His statement evidences a blatant hostility to the women’s civil rights movement and our goals of improving the status of women and helping to bring women into the mainstream of American life, in equal partnership with men,” Allred said. “The statements are completely inappropriate for any judge to make, especially a federal judge who is empowered to uphold the U.S. Constitution and federal law.”
Hauk on Monday sentenced convicted “Miss America Bandit” Dannielle Tyece Mast to two years in prison, less than half the amount of time called for under federal sentencing guidelines, after concluding that she had fallen under the “Svengali” spell of her boyfriend.
Mast’s lawyer had argued in a sentencing memorandum that Mast was a victim of the “Charles Manson syndrome” and committed the crimes because of her sexual relationship with Lonnie Jackson, a longtime felon who was not charged in the case.
“The history of it is that men have exercised traditional control over the activities of women, and I’m not going to ignore that, no matter how much flak I get from women’s lib,” the judge said. He added later: “Women seem to be soft touches for it, particularly if sex is involved.”
The judge also made reference to Oakland, where Mast first met Jackson, who is black. “I have a hard time believing there were not drugs involved, arising as it did over there in Oakland, in the black surroundings,” he said.
In an interview after the sentencing, Hauk defended his disposition of the case and compared Mast’s relationship with Jackson to that of a pimp and a prostitute. “You don’t give the pimp six months and send the prostitute away for 20 years,” he said.
Indeed, Sheila James Kuehl, a co-founder of the Southern California Women’s Law Center and a member of the gender bias task force for the state courts, said she was “ambivalent” about the case because of the inherent cultural differences between men and women that the courts must occasionally take into account, such as in battered wife syndrome cases.
“On the one hand, it seems clear that he treated the defendant differently than he would have treated a male defendant, and in that sense, it seems, superficially at least, unfair, and also to some extent, I guess, dangerously sexist,” Kuehl, who teaches gender and law at Loyola Law School, said in an interview.
“The problem is, there is a distinct possibility that women are subordinate to men in some relationships, and in this respect, what the judge might have been doing is really taking that reality into account,” she said. “If it truly reflects this woman being literally enthralled by this man, then I think it’s a merciful and just decision.”
Mark Mendenhall, spokesman for the federal appeals court, said the complaint would be referred to the chief judge, who could either dismiss it if he finds that it has no merit or appoint a special committee of judges to investigate it.
The governing council of the appeals court has several options in judicial discipline cases, including referring the matter to the chief district judge, certifying a judge as disabled, requesting a judge to voluntarily retire on full salary, ordering no further cases assigned to the judge, or public or private censure, Mendenhall said.