Court investigation to be launched into leaked survey detailing judicial misconduct: report

Court investigation to be launched into leaked survey detailing judicial misconduct: report
U.S. Supreme Court Building, January 2011, Joe Ravi

The federal court in Washington, D.C., will be launching an investigation into the public leak of an employee survey that was supposed to remain confidential. According to The Washington Post, the document contained "accusations that some judges subjected staff to gender discrimination, bullying, and racial insensitivity."

On Thursday, May 19, Judge D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan released a statement to officials in the U.S. District Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as he confirmed the upcoming investigation.

Srinivasan's notice to his colleagues comes just days after The Post published its report on the survey details on Monday, May 16. In that report, The Post highlighted "the survey’s findings and the reluctance among courthouse employees to file workplace misconduct complaints against their superiors for fear of reprisal."

However, Srinivasan insists the survey was presented in an effort to “better understand our employees’ workplace experiences, and employees who completed the survey did so on the understanding that their responses would be used only for that purpose and kept confidential.”

“The leak of a confidential document compiling the responses was a serious breach of that understanding and must be investigated,” he said in a statement.

Per The Post, the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday also issued a statement to court officials noting that as part of its “'ongoing investigation of workplace misconduct in the federal judiciary,' lawmakers wish to examine the workplace survey and related materials distributed to courthouse staff."

The latest investigative probe also comes as federal judiciary leaders are also working to overhaul the systems in place to report forms of misconduct at U.S. courthouses.

Addressing instances of misconduct that were highlighted in the leaked survey, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Judiciary committee chairman, and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) weighed in on the survey findings. According to Nadler and Johnson, the instances highlighted are an example of “why our federal judges are lobbying against legislation that would extend the nation’s fundamental anti-discrimination laws to the people who work for them.”

“While it is commendable that the D.C. Circuit has finally conducted a workplace climate survey, the results are further evidence of the culture of silence that allows judges and supervisors across the county to act with impunity,” their statement says.

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