SEATTLE -- The former chief federal judge in Montana has decided to retire at the conclusion of a misconduct investigation into a racist email about President Obama he forwarded to friends from his work computer last year.
U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, who had taken less-active senior status on the bench after the incident, will retire in May, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ chief judge, Alex Kozinski, said in a statement.
The decision follows an appeals court inquiry into the email controversy that involved interviews with Cebull and others and a review of “voluminous” documentation, including emails, Kozinski said.
The 9th Circuit’s Judicial Council issued an order March 15 based on the inquiry, but its contents remain confidential pending an appeal period, he said.
Cebull, nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2001, had written a letter of apology to Obama last spring, saying: “I sincerely and profusely apologize to you and your family.… I have no one to blame but myself.”
The email had implied that Obama's mother was so drunk at the time of his conception that he was lucky his father was not a dog. Cebull admitted sending it, telling the Great Falls Tribune that he was “not a fan” of Obama but is not a racist.
Several organizations, including the Montana Human Rights Network, Common Cause and People for the American Way, had called for a misconduct investigation, which Cebull initiated himself.
“Retirement was the only appropriate action for Cebull to take. He used his official email account to send an incredibly disgusting and racist email. When asked why, he said he sent it because he opposes the president,” Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, said in a statement.