Heather Gerken

Amid allegations of sexual misconduct against the late Judge Stephen Reinhardt LAW ’54, his former clerk and Dean of Yale Law School Heather Gerken signed a letter supporting Olivia Warren, who testified before a congressional committee about the judicial misconduct earlier this month.

In her testimony, Warren recalled getting sexually harassed as a clerk of the late ninth circuit judge. Gerken joined over 70 other former Reinhardt clerks in signing a letter affirming their support for Warren. Gerken wrote to the YLS community on Feb. 20 explaining the importance of reporting and preventing misconduct. In the email, she cited the work of the YLS Committee on Judicial Misconduct, which she established last year, in combatting sexual harassment in the judicial workplace.

“There is more to be done, both within our own community and within the judiciary, and we will strive to lead and advocate on this front,” Gerken wrote in her email to the community.

Yale Law Women, a student group at YLS that seeks to advance the position of women at the law school and in the legal profession, has been involved in the committee’s work to address the issue of judicial misconduct and highlighted the importance of the committee’s work.

YLW advancement chair Anna Kaul LAW ’21 said that she appreciated the work of the Committee on Judicial Misconduct and Reporting and students’ advocacy for reform in the judiciary and at YLS. She said the group echoes their calls for ongoing, important changes.

“Olivia Warren’s brave testimony is a reminder of the importance and urgency of those changes,” Kaul wrote in an email to the News.

The YLS Title IX working group said that the YLS community has been working toward addressing the issue of misconduct in the judiciary for several years.

Lauren Blazing LAW ’21, an affiliate of the working group, emphasized that Olivia Warren’s testimony reminds her and others of the importance of structural changes to promote transparency and protection for judicial employees.

“Last year, Dean Gerken established Yale Law School’s Committee on Judicial Misconduct and Reporting to review the then-existing policies and resources related to information sharing about the judicial workplace and available avenues for reporting and preventing misconduct,” YLS Director of Media Relations Debra Kroszner wrote. “That Committee has since made great progress working to highlight the problems in the judicial misconduct reporting system and to identify ways to fix these systemic issues. Dean Gerken has made it clear that this is a top priority for her administration and she is committed to working both with our community and the Judicial Conference to push forward these critical next steps toward change.”

Gerken was not available to provide comment.

Judge Reinhardt died in 2018.

John Besche | john.besche@yale.edu

Correction, March 2: Due to a technical error, a previous version of this article’s headline read “Gerken supports misconduct, whistleblower”; the headline should, in fact, read “Gerken supports misconduct whistleblower.”