Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Vice Chair Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA); Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Chairman Hank Johnson (D-GA); and Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Ranking Member James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) released a letter from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) in response to their letter regarding the handling of workplace misconduct in the courts. The Members released the following joint statement in response to the letter from the AO:
“In the last few years, this country has begun to come to terms with how our laws and our society have failed victims of sexual harassment. Although the Judicial Conference’s order and the reply to our letter from Director Duff and Chief Judges Tymkovich and Robinson are welcome in their transparency and attention to this important issue, they unfortunately underscore that the judiciary’s processes for handling workplace misconduct continue to fall short.
“The Judicial Conference’s order concerning Judge Murguia raises significant questions about whether there are appropriate procedures in place to consistently and fairly handle complaints.Moreover, it comes nearly four years after his misconduct was first reported, after two Congressional hearings, and after Judge Murguia had announced his resignation.
“The response to our letter suggests that there are a patchwork of policies across the different judicial circuits and with limited options for reporting outside of an employee’s immediate environment, calling into question the ability to report violations confidentially. The letter does not specify what, if any, programmatic reviews were conducted in the Tenth Circuit or the District of Kansas in response to this case. Yet it is clear that systemic problems are at the heart of this issue. The power dynamics of the federal judiciary create an environment that, without appropriate procedures in place, unnecessarily place judicial employees, clerks, and interns at risk and foster a culture of silence. While the federal judiciary has made progress, much more needs to be done.
“Leadership requires transparency, accountability, and consistency. We remain hopeful the courts will lead in holding bad actors accountable; will remain committed to protecting all individuals from workplace misconduct; and will be transparent throughout the process. The Committee will continue to work to ensure that the American people have confidence the Judicial Branch is committed to enforcing the laws that protect nearly every other workplace from discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and other sex-based misconduct.”
On February 6th, Chairman Nadler and Reps. Scanlon, Johnson and Sensenbrenner sent aletterto the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts James Duff, Tenth Circuit Chief Judge Tim Tymkovich, and District of Kansas Chief Judge Julie Robinson regarding the handling of Judge Carlos Murguia’s misconduct.Full text of the letter is available here.
OnFebruary 13th,the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held ahearing on “Protecting Federal Judiciary Employees from Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Other Workplace Misconduct.” The hearing examined the state of the Federal Judiciary’s protections against workplace harassment, discrimination and other misconduct. View Chairman Nadler’s statementhere. Watch the hearinghere.
Under current law, employees of the Federal Judiciary do not have protections from harassment, discrimination, and retaliation afforded under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In March 2019, the Judicial Conference approved new policies to address workplace misconduct which required Judges and Judiciary employees to report misconduct.
March 3rdJudicial order:https://www.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/c.c.d._no._19-02_march_3_2020_0.pdf
Previous Judicial order:https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/misconduct/10-18-90022.J.pdf