Trump-appointed Alaska judge resigns over sexual misconduct, leaving state with only one judge

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A U.S. district court judge in Alaska has resigned and could face impeachment after he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a clerk who later became an assistant district attorney and then repeatedly lied about it to investigators, a criminal investigation found.

The resignation of Joshua Kindred leaves the U.S. District Court for Alaska with only one full-time judge.

Kindred sent his resignation letter to President Joe Biden on July 3, effective Monday.

The dismissal came at the request of the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit Court, which also referred the case to the Judicial Conference of the United States to consider impeaching Kindred.

Kindred, who was appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump in 2020, did not respond to a message left on his cellphone by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The investigation began in November 2022, when Chief Justice Mary H. Murguia first became aware of possible misconduct.

The subsequent investigation by a special commission resulted in a 105-page report and 1,039 pages of evidence, including 700 pages of text messages between Kindred and his clerks.

The Legal Council found that Kindred created a hostile work environment and “appeared to have no filter” in his conversations with clerks.

“He discussed his past love life, his romantic preferences, his sex life, the paralegals’ boyfriends and his love life, his divorce, his interest in and communications with potential romantic or sexual partners, and his disparaging opinions of his coworkers,” the report said.

He also once texted a clerk: “Looks like I need a Tinder court profile.” Tinder is an online dating app.

The report also notes a close relationship between Kindred and a clerk. Over 11 months, they exchanged enough text messages to fill 278 pages, only a few of which related to her regular duties.

On Oct. 3, 2022, a week after she left her job as a clerk to become an assistant district attorney in Alaska, they went out for drinks. He offered to give her a ride home, but he had to stop by the courthouse. He invited her into his office, where she alleged he groped and kissed her, the report said.

Four days later, Kindred moved out of his house and threw him a pizza party. She left, but he texted her and said he needed to talk to her. They ended up at her apartment, where they had a sexual encounter, according to the investigation.

The report said Kindred repeatedly lied about both encounters in written responses and during an interview. He only admitted to the behavior when questioned by members of the Judicial Council during the interview and presented evidence, the report said.

The report found that another assistant U.S. Attorney in Alaska sent him nude photos and that he spoke to clerks about it. That attorney had practiced law before Kindred, unlike the clerk who became a lawyer. The report said he also spoke to other clerks about suggestive text messages from another local attorney who regularly appeared in his courtroom.

“He undertook all of these actions without any regard for the impact and ethical issues that his conduct raised,” the report said. “He is conspicuously unaware that he was the source of all of these issues.”

While the report names two assistant district attorneys in the Anchorage office, the U.S. attorney for Alaska, S. Tucker Lane, did not respond to questions about whether an investigation was underway.

“Our office cannot comment on personnel matters and will not comment further at this time,” spokesman Reagan Zimmerman said in an email.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason is the only full-time judge currently serving on the federal court in Alaska.

In addition to Kindred’s open seat, Alaska’s third judicial position has also been vacant since Dec. 31, 2021, when U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess was promoted to senior status.

There are four other senior judges, who are district judges and normally hear a limited number of cases.

Kindred was assigned to 77 open criminal cases and 148 civil cases. All are being reassigned to Gleason, except for seven cases in the Juneau Division, which are being reassigned to Burgess.

Alaska also has two active full-time magistrate judges, one a recalled magistrate and another with part-time status. Only district judges can preside over a felony criminal trial, but magistrate judges can preside over civil trials if all parties agree, according to the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. District Court.

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