Reporters Drop Fight to Obtain Judge’s Emails

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Two reporters who demanded access to a federal judge’s collection of allegedly racist emails have voluntarily dismissed their Ninth Circuit appeal.
     Reporters John Adams and Shane Castle sought access to “discriminatory and inflammatory” emails uncovered in an investigation of former Montana federal Judge Richard Cebull, according to court documents.
     Adams requested the investigation after he received a racially charged joke from Cebull about President Barack Obama.
     The Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States found that Cebull had sent hundreds of “racist, sexist and politically inflammatory” emails over a four-year period, but also determined that although the complaints against him were “well-placed,” Cebull had not violated any rights.
     The reporters sued the committee and Ninth Circuit executive Cathy Catterson after they were denied a Freedom of Information Request to see the emails. They said the emails are of public concern because parties appearing before Cebull “likely had their due process rights violated by his ruling,” according to their initial complaint.
     U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzolez Rogers dismissed the claims with prejudice in a February 2016 hearing in which she ruled that her court lacked jurisdiction because the committee and Catterson were entitled to sovereign immunity and that the committee was also entitled to judicial immunity.
     She also found that the plaintiffs failed to state a viable First Amendment violation.
     Although Adams and Castle initially appealed, last weekend they dismissed the appeal.
     “Appellants … move the court or [sic] an order to dismiss their appeal in this matter,” they state in their motion.
     The parties also agreed to waive “any recoverable costs and attorneys’ fees.”
     The plaintiffs’ attorney, Lawrence Organ, did not immediately return a phone call on Friday.
     Organ is with the California Civil Rights Law Group in San Anselmo, Calif.

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