California Appellate Court Justice Conrad Rushing retired this week amid allegations of sexual harassment from lawyers and other staff who worked for the court.

The 80-year-old Rushing presided over the Sixth District Court of Appeal for 15 years. Before that, he was a Superior Court judge in Santa Clara County.

In a confidential summary, commissioned by the court last May and obtained by KQED, investigators found that Rushing made inappropriate sexual comments about female employees’ appearance, attire and bodies.

Male colleagues reported that Rushing’s office was quote “dysfunctional” due to the justice’s conduct. One former attorney in Rushing’s office reported feeling remorseful that he did not speak up sooner.

Several former and current employees of the court shared stories with KQED, but asked not to be named, for fear Justice Rushing might use his power and influence to ruin their careers.

One source, who worked in Rushing’s office for 11 years, tells KQED News that he witnessed Rushing making conversation of a sexual nature with female colleagues.

“A big part of me feels the community does not have the full picture of Justice Rushing. He has been allowed to retire under a false luster,” says the now-retired attorney.

Rushing could not be reached for comment.

The independent investigation also found that Rushing made derogatory remarks about Portuguese-Americans and other groups based on their religion, ethnicity and national origin.

Rushing was appointed in 2002 to the newly created seat on the California Sixth District Court of Appeal by then-governor Gray Davis. He was elevated to presiding justice on Jan. 21, 2003.

The Sixth District is located in San Jose and has jurisdiction over Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties.

Appeals Court Judge Retires Amid Accusations of Sexual Harassment 8 December,2017Tonya Mosley

  • The fact that former and current court employees fear retaliation from Justice Rushing that could “ruin their careers” is unsettling but not surprising. The Judicial Branch likely will be the last institution to confront and mitigate the problem of sexual harassment because a stricter code of silence exists among judges and court employees than exists anywhere else, including in law enforcement. The threat of retaliation keeps everyone in line. Anyone who breaks the code is severely punished and ostracized. Just ask, for example, whistleblower Emily Gallup.

  • MrsKramer

    Thank you for writing this article that provides greater insight into Justice Rushing’s retirement. Not only is he being allowed to retire under false luster, he is being enabled to keep his taxpayer funded pension. Sexual harassment and discrimination are crimes. It is long past time that California’s attorney general starts prosecuting for the public corruption that is occurring in California’s judicial branch. Justice Rushing’s ability to avoid true punishment for abuse of power is just the tip of the iceberg of unethical conduct and criminal behavior that is plaguing our judicial branch.

  • Wouter Dito

    Why didn’t the othe judges on the Superior Court, and since 2002 on the Court of Appeal, get him removed from office many years ago? Wasn’t it their ETHICAL DUTY to turn him in?

    • California Courts News and Pol

      It wasn’t just an “ethical duty” for his colleagues and coworkers to report Rushing. All judges in the state effectively are mandated reporters of judge AND attorney misconduct under §§ 3D(1) and (2) of the California Judicial Ethics Code. These code sections are state law, and Rushing’s judicial colleagues had a LEGAL duty to turn him in. But another code – the code of silence, which permeates all levels of the Judicial Branch more than any other branch of government – always overrides state law, and is rigorously enforced. Why? Judges always protect fellow judges.

      And as for non-judge coworkers, the answer to why they didn’t speak up is right in the middle of Mosley’s excellent report: “Several former and current employees of the court shared stories with KQED, but asked not to be named, for fear Justice Rushing might use his power and influence to ruin their careers.” This is how the Judicial Branch functions under Judicial Council Chair and Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye:

  • California Courts News and Pol

    Judicial Council Chair and Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is now cleverly managing the fallout from this scandal by, among other things, citing her own #MeToo moments to the LA Times. Cantil-Sakauye also claims that justices on the 6th District Court of Appeal asked the Judicial Council to investigate the Rushing allegations. If anyone from the public were to report alleged judge misconduct to the Judicial Council, they would be referred to the Commission on Judicial Performance, the state agency exclusively responsible for judge accountability and discipline.
    The chronology suggests that Cantil-Sakauye intended to sweep the Rushing matter under the rug. Rushing would agree to retire and that would be the end of it. That was the plan. Until someone leaked the investigation report to Tracey Kaplan at the San Jose Mercury. So now the spin begins. Anything the chief justice says should be taken with a block of salt. She will say and do anything to save face, and to protect judges and the judicial branch from embarrassment. One way to start cleaning up the Judicial Branch would be if she retired along with Rushing.


Tonya Mosley

Tonya Mosley is the senior Silicon Valley editor for KQED based out of San Jose. Prior to KQED, Tonya served as a television reporter & anchor for several media outlets, including Al Jazeera America and KING 5 News in Seattle, WA.

In 2015, Tonya was awarded a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University where she co-created a workshop for journalists on the impacts of implicit bias and co-wrote a Belgian/American experimental study on the effects of protest coverage.

Tonya has won several national awards for her work, most recently an Emmy Award in 2016 for her televised piece “Beyond Ferguson” and a national RTDNA Unity Award for her public radio series “Black in Seattle.” She was named “Journalist of the Year” by the Washington Association for Justice for her reporting on the Seattle Police Department’s handling of a murder investigation.

You can reach Tonya at:

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor