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Former Clerk Alleges Sexual Harassment by Appellate Judge

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WASHINGTON — A former clerk to Stephen R. Reinhardt, a distinguished liberal appellate courtroom decide who died in 2018, informed a congressional committee on Thursday that he “routinely and often” sexually harassed her and different feminine clerks and raged in opposition to the #MeToo motion, contending that ladies lodging allegations of rape and abuse in opposition to males shouldn’t be believed.

Detailing her expertise working for Judge Reinhardt in 2017 and 2018, Olivia Warren, the previous clerk, testified earlier than a subcommittee of the Home Judiciary Committee that Judge Reinhardt brazenly commented on his feminine clerks’ bodily appearances and on her sexual relationship together with her partner.

In a single occasion, Ms. Warren testified, Judge Reinhardt instructed her to investigate which of the 2 feminine candidates competing for a clerkship “had nicer or longer legs” and was extra engaging. Extra often, Ms. Warren mentioned, he would disparage her bodily look and speculate — generally in entrance of different staff — that her husband “should both lack a penis, or not have the ability to get an erection” in her presence as a result of she was so unattractive.

“There could have been a day through which I used to be not harassed,” Ms. Warren mentioned. “However I can not keep in mind one after looking my reminiscence.”

She was referred to as to testify as a part of a listening to on defending federal judicial staff from sexual discrimination and different kinds of office misconduct. However Ms. Warren’s account additionally difficult the legacy of a famend federal decide who was as soon as referred to as “the liberal unhealthy boy” of the federal bench by The Weekly Normal: “ideological, outlandish and by no means boring.” It was the newest occasion of allegations of sexual harassment or abuse by a robust man from a feminine subordinate who described feeling afraid and professionally trapped in a state of affairs past her management.

“I used to be scared,” Ms. Warren, a graduate of Harvard Legislation College, testified on Thursday, “petrified of offending the decide and alienating his highly effective community of clerks, petrified of ending my authorized profession earlier than it had even begun, scared that the decide would actual revenge on me.”

She mentioned she had tried with out success to discover a approach to report Judge Reinhardt’s conduct, informing members of the Harvard Legislation College administration, together with the dean, about her expertise and later approaching the federal Workplace of Judicial Integrity. However finally, she mentioned she couldn’t discover a confidential approach to formally lodge a criticism.

The Administrative Workplace of the U.S. Courts mentioned in a press release Thursday that “no judiciary worker ought to undergo the form of harassment described by former legislation clerk Olivia Warren at this time” and that the courtroom system was taking her testimony “very severely.”

“We’re dedicated to addressing this new data and persevering with to refine our processes and procedures for safeguarding our staff and addressing misconduct,” the assertion mentioned.

Harvard Legislation College couldn’t instantly be reached for remark. An try to succeed in a member of Judge Reinhardt’s household for remark was additionally unsuccessful.

Nominated to america Courtroom of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter, Mr. Reinhardt struck down as unconstitutional Proposition 8, the California poll referendum barring same-sex marriage; the phrase “underneath God” within the Pledge of Allegiance; and legal guidelines prohibiting doctor-assisted suicide. Every of these choices was reversed or vacated by the Supreme Courtroom, however liberals celebrated them nonetheless.

In her testimony, Ms. Warren described Judge Reinhardt as hostile to the #MeToo motion and “all the time” casting doubt upon allegations of sexual misconduct, based mostly on his perception that “girls had been liars who couldn’t be trusted.”

She mentioned the decide was enraged by the scrutiny of Judge Alex Kozinski, a distinguished conservative who additionally served on the Ninth Circuit as an appeals decide, till he stepped down in 2017 after being accused of subjecting his feminine clerks to routine sexual harassment. A number of feminine clerks accused him of asking them to view pornography in his chambers and making lewd remarks directed at them.

The bombshell allegations in opposition to Judge Kozinski “turned an everyday point of interest of our lunches and broader discussions with the decide, which frequently tended in direction of the graphic and profane,” Ms. Warren mentioned, and added that Judge Reinhardt informed her that he supposed to publicly confront certainly one of Judge Kozinski’s accusers.

The accuser, Leah Litman, now an assistant professor on the College of Michigan Legislation College, recognized herself on Twitter after Ms. Warren’s testimony. She corroborated her a part of the account, writing that Judge Reinhardt in actual fact had publicly confronted and insulted her about her accusations.

“Though lots of people on Twitter will categorical assist for you while you come ahead with an accusation like this, lots of people — together with very highly effective and admired folks — might be indignant with you,” Ms. Litman wrote. “They may demean you and undermine you in methods you may see and methods you can’t. That’s a part of why it isn’t honest to say it’s the duty of the one that is topic to harassment to do one thing about it.”

Ms. Warren informed lawmakers on Thursday that she was motivated to inform her story about Judge Reinhardt within the hope that future abusive conduct may very well be correctly addressed. She didn’t intend to “erase his important contributions to the legislation,” she insisted, however felt it was vital to talk out.

“The hurt and ache that sexual harassment causes, and the aggravation of that hurt when victims haven’t any recourse and really feel they can not say or do something about it, has long-term prices to the career,” she mentioned.

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