Chief Justice Roberts focuses on harassment within court system in year-end report

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts focused on harassment in his year-end report on the federal judiciary, saying that more must be done to shield court employees from misconduct.

"The job is not finished until we have done all that we can to ensure that all of our employees are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect," he wrote in the report, released Monday.

He also wrote that "recent events" have shown that serving as a law clerk can lead to "special risks of abuse."

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"Recent events have highlighted that the very qualities that make the position of law clerk attractive—particularly, the opportunity to work with a senior member of the legal profession in a position of mentorship and trust—can create special risks of abuse," he wrote.

"Similar concerns have of course been highlighted with respect to misconduct in other prestigious and high profile professions," he continued.

Judge Alex Kozinski, an appellate judge, resigned last year after The Washington Post reported that his law clerks and other women were subjected to sexual misconduct.

Roberts later created a working committee to address harassment in the judiciary. The working group found that the judiciary "compares favorably to other government and private sector workplaces," Roberts wrote in Monday's report, but he added that the working group "did not give the Third Branch a completely clean bill of health."

The working group's report was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who said it didn't go far enough in detailing how situations similar to the case of Kozinski could be avoided in the future.

The working group recommended that the judiciary revise its codes of conduct, improve internal procedures for addressing misconduct and bolster training programs aimed at raising awareness about harassment and preventing harassment. 

Roberts said in Monday's report that he endorses those recommendations and added that a number of changes are already being implemented.

"I am grateful to the judges and other members of the Judicial Branch who have formulated and are implementing these changes, which strengthen our culture of accountability and professionalism. We are committed to addressing this challenge throughout our federal court system," he wrote.