The head of the principal policy-making body of the federal judiciary has announced the members of a working group formed to evaluate the judiciary’s codes of conduct and procedures for investigating inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, on Friday released the names of seven judges and court employees who will make up the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group, which is charged with looking into the federal judiciary’s safeguards against workplace misbehavior and its disciplinary process.
Duff issued a memo to court personnel last month indicating Chief Justice John Roberts had asked him to head the group in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal that rocked the judiciary. Duff’s memo came two days after former Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit resigned amid allegations of inappropriate conduct with law clerks and at least one colleague.
Among those named to the working group are Ninth Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown and Third Circuit Executive Margaret Wiegand.
McKeown previously chaired the Judicial Conference Codes of Conduct Committee and is currently the chair of a newly formed Ninth Circuit Workplace Environment Committee. Wiegand chairs the federal judiciary’s Human Resources Advisory Council.
Also named to the working group were First Circuit Chief Judge Jeffrey Howard; U.S. District Chief Judge Julie Robinson of the District of Kansas; U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance of the Eastern District of Louisiana; Jeffrey Minear, counselor to the chief justice; and John Cooke, deputy director of the Federal Judicial Center. Sheryl Walter, general counsel at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, is set to serve as counsel to the working group.
Friday’s announcement indicated the group will coordinate its effort with federal courts across the country conducting similar reviews, and that the group will produce a written report and recommendations for “relevant committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States.”
Roberts outlined the group’s goals in his annual year-end report on the judiciary, where he said concerns about harassment warranted “serious attention from all quarters of the judicial branch.”
“Events in recent months have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, and events in the past few weeks have made clear that the judicial branch is not immune,” wrote Roberts, without referencing Kozinski by name.