Alaska federal judge lied to investigators about sexual misconduct, inquiry finds

Former U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred was told to voluntarily resign after a judicial council investigation found he had “an inappropriately sexualized relationship” with a female law clerk and lied about it repeatedly to investigators, according to an extraordinary and scathing judicial misconduct order released Monday.

Kindred resigned July 3 without explanation. He could still face a rare judicial impeachment.

The 29-page order, filed in May but not made public until Monday, concluded that “Judge Kindred’s misconduct was pervasive and abusive, constituted sexual harassment, and fostered a hostile work environment that took a personal and professional toll on multiple clerks.”

“Judge Kindred’s conduct was not civil, dignified, or respectful — attributes that we expect from a federal judge — and his interactions with his law clerks were abusive, oppressive, and inappropriate,” the order says.

Kindred, 46, was nominated by former President Donald Trump to Alaska’s U.S. District Court in 2019 and confirmed in 2020. At the time, he was just 42 — making him one of the youngest of a swath of powerful, lifetime federal judicial appointments made by the Trump administration.

Kindred’s resignation leaves Chief Judge Sharon Gleason as the one active district court judge working in Alaska. The vast majority of Kindred’s 77 open criminal cases and 148 open civil cases were set to be reassigned to Gleason on Friday.

Former Alaska Chief Judge Timothy Burgess retired at the end of 2021. Burgess has been in semi-retired status since then. Burgess’ seat on the court has remained vacant since 2022.


The report, in blunt terms, describes a judicial chambers gone off the rails, with the judge texting and speaking with “no filter” about intimate aspects of his life, pursuing a sexual relationship with one direct employee and receiving flirtatious nude photos from a federal prosecutor whose office appeared before him regularly, among other conduct.

The judicial conduct report does not name Kindred’s former law clerk who was at the center of the investigation. The report states that Kindred and his clerk engaged in two inappropriate “sexual encounters” shortly after she had started working as a federal prosecutor.

[Earlier coverage: Alaska federal judge Joshua Kindred abruptly resigns]

Kindred and his former clerk exchanged 278 pages of text messages over an 11-month period, “only a small fraction of which had any relationship to her legitimate job duties,” the order said.

Kindred was also found by investigators to have received “nude photographs” from another more senior federal prosecutor. He also “exchanged flirtatious” text messages with a third local attorney, the order said.

Monday’s order says that the former clerk with whom he had “an inappropriate sexualized relationship” never appeared as a federal prosecutor in his courtroom. But that apparently wasn’t the case for the other two attorneys.

“He took no steps to report either of these inappropriate interactions and relationships that he had with these two attorneys who often appeared before him,” the report says.

‘Appeared to have no filter’

Jamie McGrady, Alaska’s federal public defender, said on Monday that the agency was still “absorbing the order,” but that it would be asking for disclosures from the U.S. Attorneys’ Office. The public defender agency would also take another look at cases involving Kindred and assistant U.S. attorneys with whom there could be potential conflicts of interest, McGrady said.

As described in the order, Kindred was said to have created a hostile work environment in his chambers with inappropriate comments to his other law clerks about his sex life and the dating lives of his clerks, among other topics. One clerk quit early.

“Judge Kindred appeared to have no filter as to the topics he would discuss with the clerks. He discussed his past dating life, his romantic preferences, his sex life, the law clerks’ boyfriends and dating lives, his divorce, his interest in and communications with potential romantic or sexual partners, and his disparaging opinions of his colleagues,” according to the report.

“Again, there are many examples of these disturbing text messages, which escalated in both frequency and degree over time,” it says. “Examples ranged from Judge Kindred telling the law clerk, “[y]ou’re like a f--king Disney princess . . . [y]ou are special,” to “[y]ou looked amazing as always,” to “[t]hose fucking blue pants you’d wear. Always killed me.” Other messages are much more graphic.”

In “highly inappropriate” text messages to his clerks, Kindred “joked about ‘punching multiple Supreme Court justices,’ and said he’d bring Patrón, heroin, and ‘whip-its’ to a chambers dinner party.”

Law clerks were encouraged to rate people based on their “f--kability.” Those who complained about Kindred’s alleged behavior were “belittled” or “ostracized,” and one clerk left their clerkship, the order said.

“He undertook all these actions without any regard for the impact of and the ethical issues raised by his conduct. He remains strikingly unaware that he was the source of all these issues,” the order goes on to say.

‘False statements’

Chief Judge Mary Murguia of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals started inquiring into reports of potential misconduct against Kindred in November 2022. According to Monday’s order, Kindred repeatedly and deliberately lied to investigators over the next 18 months.

“I think my great sin here was the fact that during this period of time I treated my law clerks as friends rather than employees,” Kindred told investigators at one hearing.

“Only when asked under oath during the Judicial Council meeting of April 5, 2024, did he admit that he had deliberately lied to the Special Committee,” the order says, before describing that Kindred was only candid when he faced “overwhelming contemporaneous evidence” and “pointed questioning” by the Judicial Council.


The order concluded that making “false statements” to the Judicial Council may also be considered a federal offense. But there was no evidence that Kindred had impeded any judicial misconduct reporting, the order said.

In May, the Judicial Council for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ordered that Kindred be publicly reprimanded. He would also be asked to voluntarily resign and the complaint was referred to the Judicial Conference of the United States to consider impeachment.

Kindred resigned July 3. His resignation was effective Monday.

In a prepared statement, Murguia said on Monday that the judiciary was entrusted to self-govern and that federal judges must be held to “the highest standards of integrity and impartiality.”

”In all respects, this was a serious and sensitive matter. I thank the witnesses who provided information, understanding fully how difficult that may have been,” Murguia said. “In my role as Chief, I will continue to ensure that our judges are held to the highest standards.”

By convention, home-state senators pick potential nominees to the federal judiciary who are then confirmed by the full U.S Senate. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan introduced Kindred at his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2019, and was instrumental in having him appointed to the U.S. District Court of Alaska.

“Judge Kindred’s misconduct revealed in the recent investigation is extremely disappointing,” Sullivan said through a prepared statement on Monday. “I will continue to work with the Alaska Federal Judicial Council for appointment of federal judges who understand Alaska’s unique role in our federal system. This is crucially important for our state.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, said on social media that based on the Judicial Council’s investigation that “it is more than appropriate that Mr. Kindred tendered his resignation.”


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

Reporter Michelle Theriault Boots contributed to this story.

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Sean Maguire

Sean Maguire is a politics and general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Juneau. He previously reported from Juneau for Alaska's News Source. Contact him at smaguire@adn.com.