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Revelations of Discrimination and Harassment Extend Even to the Halls of Justice

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San Jose, CA: The wide-ranging #MeToo movement that has seen scores of women calling out men for harassment, discrimination and other allegations of deplorable behavior has gone beyond media, entertainment and the hallowed Halls of Congress to encompass the judiciary. While there remain no harassment or discrimination lawsuits in the offing, two respected California news sources – including the Los Angeles Times (12/11/17) – nonetheless reveal various examples of behavior towards women, one wouldn’t expect to see in the Halls of Justice.

Was basic respect always lacking, but no one was willing to talk about it?

Another venerable California news outlet, the Mercury News (San Jose, 12/7/17) revealed in early December that a presiding justice of the Court of Appeal in San Jose – a senior judge – resigned October 31 amidst allegations of bigotry, sexual harassment and discrimination against women. The state Judicial Council, which is headed by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, had been asked by the justices of the 6 District Court of Appeal to investigate complaints against former presiding Justice Conrad Rushing.

An outside law firm is reported to have been engaged by the Judicial Council to look into the allegations against Rushing, and report back. The Mercury News managed to access a copy of what was to have been a confidential document, and in early December reported on the various allegations made against Rushing. Amongst the allegations were those of discrimination against females, including the favoring of male attorneys on the Court staff. Rushing is alleged to have favored male attorneys with assignments of more complex cases, and allowed them freedom to telecommute. Various allegations associated with comments and examples of behavior around female staff were also made.

As noted, the 80-year-old presiding Justice resigned from his position at the end of October and retired from the bench in early December, ahead of the Mercury News report. The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, was not successful in reaching Rushing for comment when the newspaper attempted to do so on December 11.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post (12/08/17) detailed allegations of harassment and against women on the part of a judge assigned to the US Court of Appeals for the 9 Circuit. According to the exhaustive report, which was published December 9, Judge Alex Kozinski – a one-time contestant on The Dating Game as a young man – is still sitting. The Los Angeles Times contacted Judge Kozinski for comment, who stated he had no recollection of the incidents and allegations contained in The Washington Post report.

Should we not expect our Justices to be held to a higher standard?

As for Cantil-Sakauye, the former prosecutor, trial court judge and state appellate justice, she suggested to the Los Angeles Times that she may have suffered more serious gender discrimination than being called “honey” and “sugar” but declined to discuss it. Cantil-Sakauye indicated that over the course of her own legal career various #MeToo moments directed her way have included being addressed as “sugar and honey and dear,” and she has been addressed as one of the “girls,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

Anything that may have gone beyond that, she declines to reveal.

“I’ve had a few ‘me-toos’ [sic] in the past, but I’m not telling them, at least not on the record,” said Cantil-Sakauye, after meeting with legal reporters in her chambers. Cantil-Sakauye also indicated the court system employs ethics instruction for judges that includes education about sexual harassment, together with basic instruction that is akin to what children are taught in kindergarten, she said.

‘Keep your hands to yourself, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want said to yourself and behave.”

Any worker in California, of any gender or gender identification who has suffered harassment or discrimination currently or previously, would be wise to speak up and seek retribution against alleged perpetrators – especially in light of the climate currently at hand.

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