Code of Silence book

Code of Silence

Winner of the 2022 Investigative Reporters and Editors' Book Award.

Winner of the 2022 Texas Institute of Letters' Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Nonfiction.

"A long overdue exposé on how the judicial system suppresses claims of sexual harassment against judges. In this new era of reckoning with sexual assault and harassment, Code of Silence is essential reading. "

-Anita Hill

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***New: A must-read new review of CODE OF SILENCE appears in the Summer '23 issue of Counterbalence, the magazine of the National Association of Women Judges by Sally J. Kenney, an author and political science professor at Tulane University who wrote in part:
"No one can read this book and think that sexual harassment law and policy protects workers or that judges are accountable for their unethical actions."
Read full article

Magazine Counterbalance

"Olsen debuts with a deeply reported exposé of how the U.S. federal court system enables abusive behavior by judges who are appointed for life...An enraging and eye-opening account of corruption and abuse within the halls of justice." Read review

-Publishers Weekly

"Code of Silence is a beautifully written, disturbing as hell example of how the American experiment fails when it lets men set themselves up as kings." Read review

-Houston Chronicle

"In Code of Silence, Lise Olsen, one of journalism's finest investigative reporters, exposes what goes on in the most secret of chambers, showing how far too often, and for far too long, federal judges have been able to abuse their extraordinary power with impunity."

-Ken Armstrong, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and
co-author of Unbelievable, as seen on Netflix


Lise Olsen is a senior investigative reporter and editor whose work has appeared in the Texas Observer, Inside Climate News, and the Houston Chronicle, as well as in documentaries on Netflix, CNN and A&E.

Lise Olsen continues to do talks about Code of Silence to womens' groups, legal groups, students and book clubs. For more information or to arrange an event, email:

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Code of Silence tells the story of federal court employee Cathy McBroom, who had to flee her job as a case manager in Galveston, Texas, after enduring years of sexual harassment and assault by her boss-US District Judge Samuel Kent. Following a decade of firsthand reporting at the Houston Chronicle, investigative reporter Lise Olsen charts McBroom's assault and the aftermath, when McBroom was thrust into the role of whistle-blower to denounce a federal judge.

What Olsen discovered by investigating McBroom's story and other federal judicial misconduct matters nationwide was shocking. With the help of other federal judges, Kent was being protected by a secretive court system that has long tolerated or ignored complaints about corruption, sexism, and sexual misconduct-enabling him to remain in office for years. Other powerful judges accused of judicial misconduct were never investigated and remain in power or retired with full pay, such as US Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and Kozinski's mentee, Brett Kavanaugh.


Code of Silence trailer

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