Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Judge hit with sexual harassment complaints resigns
Oluwasegun Jacob Oluwasegun Jacob

The departure of the Kansas-based federal jurist came after lawmakers questioned the courts’ seeming indifference.

A federal judge in Kansas who was reprimanded last year by his colleagues over sexual harassment, an extramarital affair with a felon, and chronic tardiness has announced his plans to resign from the bench.

The move by Kansas City-based U.S. District Court Judge Carlos Murguia came as members of Congress were demanding answers from the judiciary about why Murguia had not faced more severe consequences than the public admonishment delivered last September by the 10th Circuit Judicial Council.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of House Judiciary Committee members sent a letter to the courts, declaring that the lack of concrete sanctions against Murguia "calls into question the adequacy of the judiciary's recent steps to better protect its employees from wrongful workplace conduct."

The court system declined to send a representative to testify at a House hearing last week where a former law clerk to a deceased appeals court judge aired disturbing allegations of sexual harassment. The director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, James Duff, said officials did not want to be questioned about the Murguia case while aspects of it were still pending.

Murguia's resignation letter, addressed to President Donald Trump, offered "profound apologies,' but did not directly address the allegations that led to the controversy that drove him from the court.

"In recent months, it has become clear that I can no longer effectively serve the Court in this capacity," Murguia wrote. "I, therefore, tender my resignation with a heavy heart and profound apologies, out of respect for the federal judiciary, my colleagues, my community and — most importantly — my family."

In a statement, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson highlighted that Murguia would not be eligible for "pension or any other retirement benefits."

The 10th Circuit report released last year found: "Judge Murguia gave preferential treatment and unwanted attention to female employees of the Judiciary in the form of sexually suggestive comments, inappropriate text messages, and excessive, non-work-related contact, much of which occurred after work hours and often late at night. ... One of the employees eventually told him explicitly to stop his harassing conduct, but he continued."

The report also found he opened himself to extortion through his relationship with a drug-using ex-felon and that he was "habitually late."

Murguia, an appointee of President Bill Clinton confirmed to the bench in 1999, admitted to the conduct and apologized, the report said. However, the investigating judges also faulted Murguia for being "less than candid" with the judicial panel that probed the claims.

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