HELENA — The chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has appointed a special committee to investigate misconduct allegations against a Montana federal judge who forwarded an email with a racist joke involving bestiality and President Barack Obama's mother.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski appointed a five-judge panel on March 23 to investigate Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull's conduct.
Cebull is among those who had sought the review from the appellate court.
The special committee is in the early stages of its investigation, said David Madden, assistant circuit executive. Madden did not have a time frame for when the issue would be resolved.
Cebull has said he forwarded the email to a few friends because he is "not a fan" of the president. Critics say he should resign.
Kozinski appointed himself to the panel that will be headed by Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown. The other members include Circuit Judge Richard Paez and District Judges Raner C. Collins of Arizona and Rosanna M. Peterson of the Eastern District of Washington.
McKeown has the authority to order the clerk of the appellate court to issue subpoenas related to the investigation. The committee will make a report and recommendation to the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit.
The Judicial Council is composed of appellate and trial judges with the authority to discipline judges.