Montana

Mar 1, 2012 1:12 AM by Great Falls Tribune

Billings Federal Judge apologizes for inappropriate email

BILLINGS - Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Wednesday admitted to sending a racially charged email about President Barack Obama from his courthouse chambers.

Cebull, of Billings, was nominated by former President George W. Bush and received his commission in 2001 and has served as chief judge for the District of Montana since 2008.

The subject line of the email, which Cebull sent from his official courthouse email address on Feb. 20 at 3:42 p.m., reads: "A MOM'S MEMORY."

The forwarded text reads as follow:

"Normally I don't send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

"A little boy said to his mother; 'Mommy, how come I'm black and you're white?'" the email joke reads. "His mother replied, 'Don't even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you're lucky you don't bark!'"

Cebull admitted Wednesday to sending the email to seven recipients, including his personal email address.

The judge acknowledged that the content of the email was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the email was intended to be a private communication.

"It was not intended by me in any way to become public," Cebull said. "I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended."

Cebull said his brother initially sent him the email, which he forwarded to six of his "old buddies" and acquaintances.

He admitted that he read the email and intended to send it to his friends.

"The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan," Cebull said. "I didn't send it as racist, although that's what it is. I sent it out because it's anti-Obama."

Travis McAdam, executive director for the Montana Human Rights Network , said the email contained highly racist rhetoric unbecoming of a federal judge.

"It's one thing if the judge is not a fan of President Barack Obama, but you would think someone in his position would articulate that in a way that criticizes his policy decisions or his position on issues," McAdam said. "We have a hard time believing that a legitimate criticism of the president involves distributing a joke that basically compares African Americans with animals."

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