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Federal judge resigns from life tenure after just 4 years

A Trump-appointed federal judge in Alaska has resigned after investigators found he created a hostile work environment, had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a former judicial clerk and lied to colleagues about it.

Joshua Kindred resigned as a judge on the U.S. District Court of Alaska, effective Monday, after just four years on the job. The resignation letter did not provide a reason.

That same day, the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council issued a 30-page order detailing its findings of alleged misconduct by Kindred.

“We conclude that Judge Kindred engaged in misconduct by creating a hostile work environment for his trainees. This hostile work environment included ‘unwanted, offensive, and abusive sexual conduct, including sexual harassment,’” the order reads.

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Joshua Kindred served as a judge of the U.S. District Court for Alaska for just four years of his term before resigning on Monday. (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee/Report via Reuters)

The order describes more than 700 pages of text messages between Kindred and his paralegals, many of which were deemed “highly inappropriate.”

In one message, the order states that Kindred told his clerks, “Who cares about ethics, we have to pay you.” Another order says he joked about “hitting a bunch of Supreme Court justices” and bringing Patrón tequila, heroin and “whip-its” — a slang term for a type of inhalant — to a party at his law firm.

The board also found that Kindred had an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with a law clerk during her clerkship and after she became an assistant U.S. attorney in Alaska.

Kindred engaged in sexual contact with her twice, according to the warrant. The former clerk said the second incident, which occurred at the Airbnb where Kindred was staying, was not consensual. Kindred said it was consensual.

Joshua Kindred was sworn in as a judge of the U.S. District Court for Alaska in early 2020. (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee/Report via Reuters)

“The Board does not need to rule on whether the Airbnb incident was consensual in order to find that Judge Kindred engaged in misconduct,” the order said.

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When questioned during the investigation about the sexual encounter with his former paralegal, Kindred lied to Chief Judge Mary Murguia, the Special Committee and the Council, denying the encounter ever occurred until he was sworn to do so, according to the judges.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, wrote on social media that Kindred’s resignation “is more than appropriate.”

“Judges are held to the highest standards, and Mr. Kindred has failed to meet that goal,” Murkowski wrote. “I will work quickly to prepare a replacement candidate for consideration.”

Although Kindred has resigned, the case is not closed. The Council has referred the matter to the Judicial Conference for consideration of impeachment.

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Kindred was appointed to the position by former President Trump in 2019 and was sworn in in 2020.