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Olivia Warren testified today about sexual harassment she experienced as a law clerk for Judge Stephen Reinhardt during the last year of his life.…
Because I was a Reinhardt clerk and have written in praise of his work and character, I feel some obligation to comment. I am surprised and saddened to learn of what Ms. Warren endured, but I have no reason whatsoever to doubt her account.
I knew Judge Reinhardt as a brilliant, compassionate judge. He was, like everyone, a complicated human being. He certainly could be a demanding boss, sometimes unreasonably so.
When I was Judge Reinhardt's law clerk, I witnessed numerous instances of his not-so-quaintly archaic views about gender roles. However, in front of me he did not engage in the sort of expressly sexually demeaning behavior that Ms. Warren describes.
I do not know whether that is because I was oblivious to such behavior or whether Judge Reinhardt changed over time. But my failure to witness such behavior 30 years ago casts no doubt on the veracity of Ms. Warren's testimony.
In any event, I share Ms. Warren’s broader view that the intense personal supervision that makes a federal court clerkship so valuable for a new lawyer also creates risks of abuse that the judiciary and, for our part, law schools, need to do a better job preventing and remedying.
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