California chief justice: Release judges’ names in sex cases

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s top judge said Tuesday state courts should disclose the names of judges and other court officials who have entered into settlement agreements to resolve sex harassment or sex discrimination complaints.

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said she is asking the policymaking body for California’s courts, the Judicial Council, to revise rules to make it clear that the information is public.

The current rules are ambiguous, she said.

The announcement comes after the Judicial Council said in March that it had paid more than $500,000 in taxpayer funds since 2011 to settle five complaints of sexual harassment against judges and other court employees.

The council serves as a lawyer for judges and court employees accused of misconduct. It said attorney-client privilege and other ethical obligations of attorneys did not allow it to disclose any names or details in the individual cases.

“The judiciary relies on the trust and confidence of the public it serves, and the public has a right to know how the judicial branch spends taxpayer funds,” Cantil-Sakauye said in a statement.

The Judicial Council said in March that three of the complaints it settled were against judges and two were against court employees, and it had paid another roughly $80,000 since 2010 to investigate sexual harassment allegations against five judicial officers.

The figures may not reflect all of the money paid out to settle harassment claims against state judges and court staff because individual courts can reach their own deals without involving the Judicial Council.