By Associated Press - Tuesday, February 18, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge in Kansas who was publicly reprimanded for sexually harassing female employees and having an extramarital affair with an offender resigned on Tuesday, saying he could no longer effectively serve on the court.

U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia, who was based in Kansas City, Kansas, said in his letter that his resignation will be effective April 1.

“In recent months, it has become clear that I can no longer effectively serve the Court in this capacity,” Murguia wrote. “I therefore tender my resignation with a heavy heart and profound apologies, out of respect for the federal judiciary, my colleagues, my community and - most importantly - my family.”

He was reprimanded in September by the Judicial Council for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said in its order that female employees accused Murguia of making sexually suggestive remarks and sending inappropriate texts to female employees, as well as having “excessive, non-work-related contact” with them.

A reprimand is the most severe sanction available to the council, the order said.

The judge’s years-long affair with a habitual drug user who was on probation but was later sent back to prison left him susceptible to extortion, the council’s order said.

Murguia was also reprimanded for being habitually late to court proceedings and meetings.

He said he would stay until April 1 to help the transition of his administrative and case-related responsibilities.

Murguia was appointed to the federal court in 1999 by then-President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, after serving as a Kansas district court judge in Kansas City. He was the first Hispanic federal judge appointed in Kansas.

The council’s order in September said no evidence existed that Murguia’s misconduct continued after he was notified of a complaint against him. The Judicial Council interviewed 23 people after receiving a complaint against him.

But 10th Circuit Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich wrote in the order that Murguia was “less than candid” and tended to admit to the allegations only when confronted with evidence.

“His apologies appeared more tied to his regret that his actions were brought to light than an awareness of, and regret for, the harm he caused to the individuals involved and the dignity of his office,” Tymkovich wrote.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, citing Murguia’s actions, said in a letter to the Judicial Council that Murguia’s behavior exposed “very troubling workplace behavior by an active judge that was never reported.”

The letter said the Council had not said how it ensured a safe workplace or provided support for Murguia’s co-workers and other employees. The committee also asked how many people the judge harassed, why they didn’t feel comfortable filing a complaint against Murguia and whether other judges in Kansas were aware of his behavior. The committee requested a response by Thursday.

Last week, a former law clerk testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s panel on the courts about being sexually harassed while she worked for federal judge Stephen Reinhardt, who has since died. The hearing was held to determine if a new system for reporting misconduct in the judiciary is adequate.

Last year, the judiciary revised its codes of conduct for judges and judicial employees to more clearly define inappropriate workplace behavior, including sexual harassment. The revisions require judges and judiciary employees to report misconduct and said retaliating against anyone who reports misconduct is unacceptable.

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