Newly resigned federal judge is accused of harassing a law clerk and ‘unwanted, offensive, and abusive sexual conduct’

a man with a blue tie
Joshua Kindred, then an attorney for the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, at a conference in 2018. (Photo courtesy Heather Holt)

Joshua Kindred, who resigned as a U.S. District Court judge for Alaska last week, had an “inappropriately sexualized relationship” with one of his law clerks, engaged in “unwanted” sexual conduct and then lied about it to the chief judge, according to the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit.

The findings are summarized in a 30-page order, signed by nine federal judges. It is rife with details describing sexual harassment, vulgar remarks and texts about his sexual desires and experiences. It also describes Kindred’s attempts to mislead and deny when confronted with complaints.

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

Most of his alleged misconduct was focused on a law clerk who became an assistant U.S. attorney. After she took her new job as a prosecutor — in an office that brings cases to his court — Kindred engaged in sexual contact with her on two occasions. She says the second incident, in an Airbnb where he was staying, was not consensual. He says it was.

“The Council need not make a finding on whether the Airbnb incident was consensual to conclude that Judge Kindred committed misconduct,” the judges’ order says.

Kindred voluntarily resigned, which the court announced last week, but that does not end the investigation into his behavior. The federal Judicial Council referred the case to the Judicial Conference to consider recommending his impeachment.

An impeachment would have to go through Congress. In U.S. history, only a handful of federal judges have been impeached by the U.S. House and convicted by the Senate. It’s not clear what the ramifications of impeachment would be, since Kindred has already resigned, but it could prevent him from holding high office again.

Then-President Donald Trump nominated Kindred to the bench, with the approval of both Alaska U.S. Senators in 2019. 

RELATED: Trump-appointed judge in Alaska resigns after just 4 years

Sen. Lisa Murkowski issued a statement Monday calling his resignation “more than appropriate.”

“Judges need to be held to the highest of standards and Mr. Kindred fell well short of that mark,” she wrote. “I will be working quickly to advance a replacement nominee for consideration.”

Kindred was sworn in in early 2020. The chief judge learned of complaints against him in November 2022, the judicial order says.

Kindred has not publicly commented on the allegations or offered a reason for his resignation.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her Read more about Lizhere.

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