US courts to seek sexual harassment protections

This file photo taken on March 16, 2017 shows Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Alex Kozinski during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, DC. A prominent US appeals court judge announced his immediate retirement on December 18, 2017 following allegations of sexual misconduct. Alex Kozinski, 67, who served on the powerful San Francisco-based US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, was accused of inappropriate behavior by at least 15 former clerks and staffers. (AFP/Getty Images North America/Justin Sullivan)
Updated 01 January 2018
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US courts to seek sexual harassment protections

Washington: Chief Justice John Roberts unveiled a plan Sunday to help shield US court employees from sexual harassment, acknowledging the judicial branch is “not immune” after a powerful appellate judge retired over misconduct allegations.
The top US Supreme Court justice has already tasked Administrative Office of US Courts chief James Duff to review procedures to protect court employees from sexual misconduct, according to a memo released Wednesday that also spelled out existing recourse.
Duff said he was setting up a working group that would provide a report and recommendations by May 1.
The memo came just days after Alex Kozinski stepped down from his post at the influential San Francisco-based US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit after he was accused of inappropriate behavior by at least 15 former clerks and staffers.
The Romanian-born Kozinski is the highest-ranking judiciary official ensnared in a swirling nationwide reckoning on sexual harassment and abuse, which has toppled a number of powerful men in entertainment, politics, business and the media.
And nearly 700 current and former law clerks had sent Roberts a letter seeking action to better handle sexual harassment in the workplace.
“Events in recent months have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, and events in the past few weeks have made clear that the judicial branch is not immune,” Roberts wrote in his 2017 State of the Judiciary Report.
“The judiciary will begin 2018 by undertaking a careful evaluation of whether its standards of conduct and its procedures for investigating and correcting inappropriate behavior are adequate to ensure an exemplary workplace for every judge and every court employee.”
Roberts said he expected Duff’s working group to “consider whether changes are needed in our codes of conduct, our guidance to employees — including law clerks — on issues of confidentiality and reporting of instances of misconduct, our educational programs, and our rules for investigating and processing misconduct complaints.”
“These concerns warrant serious attention from all quarters of the judicial branch,” he added.
Relationships between judges and their law clerks have especially come under scrutiny, and because the chambers operate under strict confidentiality rules, there is concern that harassment goes unreported.
In their letter to Roberts, the current and former law clerks and law professors wrote that they believe “significant changes are necessary to address the potential for harassment of employees who work in the federal court system.”
They warned that there was a risk that “confidentiality provisions can be used to shield, if not enable, harassment.”
When the letter was first sent to Roberts on December 20, there were 695 signatories. By December 28, 844 people had signed the letter.


Two Australian WWI soldiers laid to rest in France

Updated 12 November 2018
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Two Australian WWI soldiers laid to rest in France

  • Private Hedley Roy MacBeth, aged 31, and acting corporal James Leonard Rolls, aged 23, were killed in May 1917 during the second battle of Bullecourt
  • The bodies of the two soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force’s 24th infantry battalion were discovered by a disused railway track on May 23 May, 2015

BUISSY: Two Australian soldiers, killed over 100 years ago during World War I, were finally laid to rest in northern France on Monday as relatives stood by.
“He’s not an unknown soldier anymore, we know where he is,” said Robert MacBeth, 36, from Ballan, in Australia’s Victoria state, speaking of his great grandfather.
Private Hedley Roy MacBeth, aged 31, and acting corporal James Leonard Rolls, aged 23, were killed in May 1917 during the second battle of Bullecourt.
British and Australian troops managed to push back German lines during a week-long offensive which left 7,000 dead in the allied ranks.
“We are very happy, it’s very emotional that we’re finally burying him with full military honors and that he has been put safely to rest here in France,” Irene Darby, Rolls’ great niece, told AFP at the ceremony led by Australia’s Governor-General Peter Cosgrove at the Quéant Road Cemetery, near Buissy.
The bodies of the two soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force’s 24th infantry battalion were discovered by a disused railway track on May 23 May, 2015.
They were formally identified in August this year thanks to DNA testing of their relatives.
The two men were in a trench near the railway line when an artillery shell exploded nearby, according to army archives.
They will now rest alongside some 2,400 Commonwealth and German soldiers in the cemetery run by the Commonwealth war graves commission.
“The family always knew about James, he was spoken about at every Anzac Day,” Darby said.
“We can now say we found him and we can come and visit him now, we know where he is,” she added.
Almost 62,000 Australian soldiers were killed during WWI.
Historians believe the bodies of 700,000 of the 3.5 million soldiers killed on the Western Front are still missing.