Montana Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull cautioned University of Montana law school graduates last year to take some time to reflect before firing off an email.
Cebull, 67, is facing an investigation by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over a racist email joke he admitted forwarding to friends from his work computer. He was the featured speaker at the UM law school graduation last May 21. The university provided a tape of the address at the Gazette's request.
"The lawyer sits at a computer, furiously types out an email and then without thinking about it, he moves the cursor up to send, he hits a button and it goes off. What's wrong with that scenario?" Cebull asked. "You didn't give yourself time to reflect on the comments and statement you made in your email and probably the biggest problem is you can't take it back."
Cebull's speech included his view that technology has contributed to a shift in the legal profession where younger lawyers don't put the same value on face-to-face communication, personal relationships and civility as lawyers born earlier. He encouraged the graduates to supplement the use of technology, like emails, texting and social media, with "eye-to-eye contact and conversation."