Federal Judge in Alaska Resigns Amid Accusations of Sexual Harassment

A federal judge in Alaska resigned after investigators found that he had been abusive to his law clerks, had an “inappropriately sexualized relationship” with one of them and then lied about his misconduct, according to a judicial report released on Monday.

The judge, Joshua M. Kindred of the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, submitted his letter of resignation on July 3 without explanation, saying only that it would take effect on Monday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revealed in the report that Mr. Kindred had been asked to leave his post after a committee of judges investigating the claims against him found his chambers to be a hostile and sexualized work environment.

Investigators said that Mr. Kindred had sexually harassed one clerk, exchanging 278 pages of text messages with her, only a small fraction of which had to do with her official duties. After her clerkship ended, Mr. Kindred met her for drinks and took her back to his chambers, where he kissed her, according to the report.

During a second encounter, the report said, Mr. Kindred performed oral sex on the clerk in a friend’s apartment. “I just remember thinking like there’s nothing I can do about this, like this is about to happen,” she told investigators. Later, the clerk said, Mr. Kindred told her to “keep your head down and shut up,” with an expletive.

When confronted by the committee, Mr. Kindred said that there had been no physical or sexual interactions with the clerk at any point. “Only when asked under oath during the Judicial Council meeting of April 5, 2024, did he admit that he had deliberately lied to the special committee,” the report said.

The committee also found that clerks had been subjected to explicit details about Mr. Kindred’s sex life, questions about their dating lives and profane rants about other public officials. “Judge Kindred appeared to have no filter,” the report said.

Mr. Kindred did not respond to requests for comment left with his office and the clerk’s office. He was nominated to the bench by President Donald J. Trump in 2019 and confirmed by a 54-to-41 Senate vote the next year. He previously worked for the Anchorage District Attorney’s Office and later the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.

“We take judicial misconduct complaints seriously,” Chief Judge Mary H. Murguia of the Ninth Circuit court, who appointed the committee, said in a statement, adding, “I thank the witnesses who provided information, understanding fully how difficult that may have been.”

The investigation into Mr. Kindred’s actions now goes to the Judicial Conference, the national policymaking body of the federal courts. Although Mr. Kindred has resigned, the conference could still report grounds for impeachment to Congress.

Federal judges serve lifetime appointments, and resignations are unusual. From 2022 to 2023, at least six of the judiciary’s more than 800 judges — all Obama appointees who had served between seven and 12 years — resigned to return to private practice.

In chambers, a federal judge is in close daily contact with three or four young law clerks who depend on the judge for guidance and professional advancement. Mr. Kindred told investigators that his mistake had been “treating his law clerks as friends,” the report said.

But some of the clerks described a very different dynamic. “In the few instances where clerks came to Judge Kindred to discuss his inappropriate behavior,” the report found, “they were belittled or ostracized, and, in one instance, a clerk left the clerkship.”

One former law clerk, Aliza Shatzman, who now lobbies for stronger workplace protections, said the Ninth Circuit had done the right thing by asking for Mr. Kindred’s resignation, but she called for more sweeping reforms. “Real accountability is still desperately needed,” said Ms. Shatzman, founder of the Legal Accountability Project.

In statements, both of Alaska’s senators expressed disappointment at Mr. Kindred’s actions. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, said she would work quickly to advance a replacement nominee.

“It is more than appropriate that Mr. Kindred tendered his resignation,” she wrote on social media. “Judges need to be held to the highest of standards and Mr. Kindred fell well short of that mark.”

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