Judge who sent racist e-mail on Obama to retire

SEATTLE — The former chief federal judge in Montana has decided to retire at the conclusion of a misconduct investigation into a racist e-mail about President Barack Obama he forwarded to friends from his work computer last year.

U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, who had taken less-active senior status on the bench after the incident, will retire in May, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ chief judge, Alex Kozinski, said in a statement.

The decision follows an appeals court inquiry into the email controversy that involved interviews with Cebull and others and a review of “voluminous” documentation, including e-mails, Kozinski said.

The 9th Circuit’s Judicial Council issued an order March 15 based on the inquiry, but its contents remain confidential pending an appeal period, he said.

Cebull, nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2001, had written a letter of apology to Obama last spring, saying: “I sincerely and profusely apologize to you and your family…. I have no one to blame but myself.”

The e-mail had implied that Obama’s mother was so drunk at the time of his conception that he was lucky his father was not a dog. Cebull admitted sending it, telling The Great Falls Tribune that he was “not a fan” of Obama but is not a racist.

Several organizations, including the Montana Human Rights Network, Common Cause and People for the American Way, had called for a misconduct investigation, which Cebull initiated himself.