WASHINGTON — Chief Justice John Roberts announced an initiative Sunday to ensure there are proper procedures in place to protect law clerks and other court employees from sexual harassment, saying it is clear that the federal judiciary “is not immune” from a widespread problem.

The statement, in Roberts’ 2017 State of the Judiciary Report, follows the retirement last month of Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The influential 67-year-old judge stepped down after two reports in The Washington Post detailed allegations he had subjected former law clerks and other women to inappropriate sexual behavior.

“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.

“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.”

Just days after Kozinski’s Dec. 18 retirement, Roberts directed James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, to put together a working group to examine the issue. CNN reported at the time that Duff will report back by May 1.

A group of nearly 700 former and current law clerks also sent Roberts a letter requesting action and asking that he highlight the concern in his annual report on the state of the federal judiciary.

“I have great confidence in the men and women who comprise our judiciary,” Roberts wrote. “I am sure that the overwhelming number have no tolerance for harassment and share the view that victims must have clear and immediate recourse to effective remedies.”

Of particular concern has been the relationships between judges and their law clerks – usually recent law school graduates.

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