That prompted Judge Theodore McKee, the chief judge of the 3rd U.S. Circuit, to file a petition with the national Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, asking the committee to review the council’s work and publish the original March 15 order.
Judge McKee argued that the 9th Circuit council’s subsequent rulings inappropriately concealed its original findings.
The 9th Circuit Council told the national review panel in response that it sought only to disclose enough about the investigation to ensure the public knows the matter was taken seriously, and it did not intend to publish the original order.
The national committee ruled that Cebull’s retirement only affected the sanctions, but the factual findings and legal conclusions of the investigation must still be published.
“The imperative of transparency of the complaint process compels publication of orders finding judicial misconduct,” the national judicial panel wrote in its decision.
A phone number listed under Cebull’s name was disconnected Friday, and an after-hours phone call to the U.S. District Court in Billings went unanswered.
Cebull himself and 10 others requested the misconduct investigation after The Great Falls Tribune reported Cebull forwarded an email in February 2012 that included a joke about bestiality and Obama’s mother. Cebull apologized to Obama after the contents of the email were published.
He told the 9th Circuit panel that his “public shaming has been a life-altering experience” and that he was “acutely aware that each day in my court is the most important day in someone’s life.”
Cebull was nominated by former President George W. Bush and received his commission in 2001. He served as chief judge of the District of Montana from 2008 until 2013.