June 13, 2018
Grassley: Judicial Employees Deserve Protection from Harassment, Misconduct
Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Judiciary Committee
June 13, 2018
morning and welcome to this very important hearing today about confronting
sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct in the federal judiciary.
December 8, 2017, news broke that six women who previously served as law clerks
on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit accused then-Judge
Alex Kozinski of sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct in the
Bond was one of those six women. She clerked for Judge Kozinski in 2006 and
2007, before going on to clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice
Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court of the United States.
December 2017, following the news report, Ms. Bond published an accounting of
her experience clerking for Judge Kozinski. Ms. Bond reported that on the very
first day of her clerkship, right after taking her oath of office, Judge
Kozinski clutched Ms. Bond’s arm and announced with a smile to others: “It’s
too late now. She can’t escape any longer. She’s my slave.” Ms. Bond tried to
play it off as a joke. “I think you mean indentured servant,” Ms. Bond recalled
she said. “No, I meant slave,” Ms. Bond recalled Judge Kozinski saying with a
Bond’s account of the sexual harassment she faced over the next year as a clerk
for Judge Kozinski is harrowing. She describes three occasions when Judge
Kozinski called her into his chambers, alone, showing her pornography on his
work computer and asking her sexually suggestive questions. Each time, as Ms.
Bond reported in December, she felt disgusted and horrified.
while this was happening, Ms. Bond, and other law clerks like her, felt they
had nowhere to go for help. They felt like they were entirely at the mercy of
their very powerful and lifetime-appointed federal judge.
is how Ms. Bond describes those encounters with Mr. Kozinski: “When this
happened, I felt like a prey animal—as if I had to make myself small.”
Bond reported that working in such an environment took an emotional toll. Ms.
Bond recalled that she “began waking from sleep, heart racing, hearing
imaginary double beeps summoning me to his office. I started not being able to
sleep at all. By the time I left the clerkship, there were nights I would lie
in bed and watch the darkened ceiling until I had to get up and go back to
the last day of her clerkship, Judge Kozinski topped off a year of torment and
abuse with a threat. He informed Ms. Bond that “the beauty of judicial
confidentiality was that it went two ways.” Ms. Bond recalls Judge Kozinski
explaining that “[a]s long as I never, ever told anyone what had happened in
chambers with him, he would never tell anyone what had happened with me.”
Kozinski apparently wasn’t interested in controlling his law clerks for just a
year. According to Ms. Bond’s account, he wanted to have control over his law
clerks long after they completed their clerkships. Judge Kozinski used
confidentiality and threats to silence his former female law clerks, according
to Ms. Bond.
Bond, one of the two women to first come out on the record about the harassment
faced as a law clerk to Judge Kozinski, has been remarkably courageous
throughout this entire process. By coming forward first, along with Emily
Murphy, Ms. Bond has made it easier for other clerks in the future to feel more
comfortable speaking out against judicial harassment. Because Ms. Bond
unfortunately has experienced harassment firsthand from a sitting federal
circuit judge, Ms. Bond is uniquely qualified to ascertain what changes could
be made to prevent other law clerks from having a similar experience.
December 20, 2017, nearly 700 judicial clerks and law professors sent a letter
to the Chief Justice of the United States, the Administrative Office of the
U.S. Courts, the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, and the Federal
Judicial Center. This letter took the entire judicial branch to task for its
failure to prevent and address workplace harassment in the judiciary. Without
objection, I will enter this letter into the record.
his 2017 annual report, Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that the judicial
branch was not immune to the scourge of workplace harassment. The Chief Justice
directed the AO to create a working group to examine the judiciary’s practices
and standards of conduct. Specifically, the working group was tasked with
evaluating whether the AO’s procedures for investigating and correcting
inappropriate behavior were adequate, and to consider changes that could be
made to improve codes of conduct, educational programs and complaint reporting
procedures. Without objection, I will enter this annual report into the record.
Chief Justice of the United States and his team had nearly six months to draft
a report and propose serious solutions to the problem of sexual harassment and
other workplace misconduct in the federal judiciary. After the Kozinski scandal
and other allegations, it was a real chance to undertake reforms. But in too
many ways, this vague report kicks the can down the road. It leaves to other
part-time advisory committees the key task of formulating specific policy
changes. It appears victims could be left wondering to whom they can report,
with little instruction or transparency in the process or resolution.
every federal agency has an independent watchdog guarding against misconduct.
And all federal entities—except the courts—have meaningful remedies, guidelines
and procedures for addressing workplace harassment. It’s time for the federal
judiciary to catch up.
Bond submitted a letter to the committee, responding to the working group’s
report. Without objection, I will submit it into the record.
highlight some of the observations Ms. Bond’s letter makes. Ms. Bond identifies
that harassment occurs as part of a pattern of abusive behavior, and rarely
occurs as an isolated incident. For example, she noted that a precursor to
harassment and misconduct is control and isolation of employees. Banning
employees from socialization with other chambers and with their own co-clerks,
refusing to allow clerks use of court email addresses, demanding grueling and
rigid hours—all of these actions effectively cut off their interactions with
other chambers and HR.
Bond identifies a number of troubling warning signs that may indicate severe
employee mismanagement and misconduct. Ms. Bond then suggests several
recommendations on how to respond to these precursors. These recommendations
are valuable and specific. We’ve heard similar comments from other law clerks
who have spoken to the Committee. I urge members of the working group to read
Ms. Bond’s statement in full.
was equally impressed with Ms. Santos’s recommendations for improving the
Working Group report and I look forward to hearing her testify about them
want to thank the brave women who spoke out against this harassment, both
publicly and to staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Speaking out against
powerful federal judges in a system that doesn’t always protect victims takes
tremendous courage. But because of your bravery, we can hopefully begin to make
real, significant changes to these power imbalances that allow harassment to thrive.
would like to recognize Kendall Turner, one of the law-clerk representatives
who provided recommendations to the working group.
I was disappointed in the working group’s report overall, the report did make
some useful recommendations. In particular, the group recommended extending the
time for initiating an EDR claim from 30 to 180 days, expanding the scope of
EDR Plans to cover interns, and requiring judges to report harassment. I was
also encouraged by the recommendation to revise the judicial conduct rules.
the working group’s report fell short in eight different ways.
the working group did not include any current or former law clerks on its
its report is exceedingly vague concerning the pervasiveness of sexual
harassment in the federal judiciary.
the report did not set any timeframe for the judiciary to implement its
the report gave little specific guidance about how the judiciary should amend
its codes of conduct. This is particularly disappointing because several
Circuit Court reports released in the 1990s provided specific, detailed
examples of adequate policy language. Thus, the working group report fell far
short of the quality of reports on workplace harassment from twenty years ago.
the report did not recommend establishing a national reporting mechanism. So it
leaves victims no other avenue except to report to the chief judges of their
local district or circuit courts. This is a major issue because the report
gives no guidance on how a chief judge should conduct an adequate investigation
and does not require a chief judge to even produce a report describing the
methodology and findings of the investigation to the AO or to the victim.
Moreover, law clerks may be intimidated by reporting to a local chief judge,
instead of an independent national office.
the working group gave no specifics about the AO’s new Office of Judicial
Integrity. It didn’t outline a budget or select staff for this office.
the report doesn’t create a formal (or even informal) uniform complaint
process. The Office of Judicial Integrity will merely provide “advice” and
“counseling” to clerks and court staff.
the report gave no apology for, or even acknowledgement of, what went wrong in
the case of Judge Kozinski, and it didn’t indicate how its recommendations will
prevent a similar scenario from happening again.
some of the limited number of substantive recommendations contained in the
report were a step in the right direction, the report has left far too much
reviewing the report last week, the Committee scheduled this hearing to discuss
the report, along with misconduct and sexual harassment in the Federal
Judiciary more broadly. After that announcement, former and current employees
of the Federal Judiciary began contacting the Committee. As our staff listened
to the reports of sexual harassment and other misconduct, some themes began to
emerge. The accounts of these whistleblowers often included phrases like: “I wouldn’t
go to the Chief Judge, if you did you could be fired.” Courthouse staff, some
separated by thousands of miles, were told things like: “the Chief Judge has my
back.” It was not unusual for these accounts to include staff reporting
incidents to their HR director only to be met with a response of “oh no, not
again” or “I hope it’s not the person I think it is because the Chief will be
December, sixteen additional whistleblowers from all across the country alleged
similar experiences with attempting to report harassment, waste, and other
unprofessional workplace misconduct. It was the same complaint time and again:
employees would report misconduct and harassment, only to have their claim
tossed aside or buried. Many of these whistleblowers are of the mindset that
there is no reason to report misconduct or abuse. That no matter how many times
or to whom they report, “it is only going to get buried.” This is a repeated
concern. And it is unacceptable.
addition, I heard about several other individuals who refused to share their
problems with my staff because they lack the whistleblower protections afforded
to other federal agency employees. Imagine that. There are those who have
important information to share or painful problems to report, yet they feel
they have no way of safely reporting them to Congress. Again, this is
employees deserve to be protected from isolation, retaliation, and misconduct.
They deserve an independent, impartial reporting mechanism that they can trust.
With no clear established reporting or investigation protocol, or independent
third party to ensure all complaints are properly reviewed, judges or those in
positions of authority are free to dismiss genuine complaints.
is clear that this problem is not contained to one circuit or one courthouse.
his testimony today, I hope that Director Duff will be able to provide the
Committee with a more specific details on how the AO plans to confront and fix
these serious problems of sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct in
the federal judiciary.
I still have not heard any apology from the Judiciary to these female law
clerks who Judge Kozinski victimized. The Judiciary declined to take any action
against Judge Kozinski, following his resignation, and he still receives his