To the editor: I was very disappointed to read former U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals executive Cathy A. Catterson’s letter to the L.A. Times. It shouldn’t be surprising that law clerks and staff are reluctant to report harassment when those at the very top are so reflexively defensive of accused judges.
If Catterson’s views are shared by others in court administration (and she suggests they are), then we can’t trust the courts to reform themselves.
And to date, they really haven’t. Instead, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has just offered “window dressing"-type changes that don’t make a material difference in reporting and addressing judges’ misconduct.
Congress must act, and it should force court administration reforms despite institutional inertia and some judges’ resistance to greater oversight.
Catterson claims that the late Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s “bark” was worse than his “bite,” despite acknowledging that she had no personal knowledge regarding his alleged misconduct toward his clerk. A circuit judge’s chambers is a small and private place — a place where vicious “bites” could be delivered frequently, and without much, if any, notice outside.
That is exactly why the reporting system must be strengthened.
David E. Hackett, Los Angeles
The writer is a former 9th Circuit law clerk.