Federal judge resigns amid allegations of inappropriate relationship with clerk

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Federal judge resigns amid allegations of inappropriate relationship with clerk

A federal judge in Alaska has resigned amid allegations he engaged in an “inappropriately sexualized relationship” with one of his law clerks.

U.S. District Judge Joshua M. Kindred submitted his letter of resignation July 3 without explanation, saying that it would be effective July 8. In a judicial conduct review released Monday, Kindred is accused of creating a hostile work environment and of having an inappropriate relationship with one of his staffers during her clerkship that continued shortly after she became an assistant U.S. attorney.

The Judicial Council overseeing the matter requested Kindred voluntarily resign as the Judicial Conference of the United States continues to look into the situation.

A special committee was appointed in February 2023 to investigate the allegations. The committee submitted its 1,144-page report earlier this year after reviewing hundreds of text messages and interviewing witnesses, including Kindred and those who worked for him.

The committee detailed the “unusually close relationship” between Kindred and the law clerk, explaining there were two sexual encounters in October 2022. The panel also reviewed nearly 300 pages of text messages between the two over an 11-month period.

After she left the clerkship and began her new job as assistant U.S. attorney, Kindred met the former clerk for drinks and then brought her upstairs to his chambers, where he kissed her, according to the review. There was also a second sexual encounter a few days later at his temporary apartment, the reported noted.

“I just remember thinking like there’s nothing I can do about this, like this is about to happen,” the clerk told investigators about the second incident.

The report said Kindred initially lied about the relationship with the law clerk, saying he “never had any sexual contact with [the law clerk].”

“Only when asked under oath during the Judicial Council meeting of April 5, 2024, did he admit that he had deliberately lied to the Special Committee,” the report said.

The complaint of judicial misconduct said Kindred “created a hostile work environment for his law clerks by engaging in unwanted, offensive, and abusive conduct, and treating the law clerks in a demonstrably egregious and hostile manner.”

It also alleged that the judge regularly subjected judicial employees to conversations about his personal life, including those “of a sexual nature.” The committee found he “had no hesitation in using language that was inappropriate in a professional setting,” including stating that he was not “hoe-ignorant,” sharing inappropriate stories of sexual encounters and sharing his sexual preferences.

The review noted that Kindred, in his response to the report, said he “failed to exercise appropriate boundaries and crossed lines I should not have crossed, particularly as it relates to the overarching trend of me treating employees as friends and allowing my personal and professional struggles to become topics of conversation.”

Kindred was nominated by then-President Trump to replace U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline in 2019. He was later confirmed by the Senate in 2020.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) said she is working on getting a replacement nominee to take over Kindred’s position.

“Based on the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit’s Order and Certification, it is more than appropriate that Mr. Kindred tendered his resignation,” she said in a statement. “Judges need to be held to the highest of standards and Mr. Kindred fell well short of that mark. I will be working quickly to advance a replacement nominee for consideration.”