Questions have been raised about Judge Alex Kozinski’s explanation that he happened to be hearing – because of a random assignment – a pornography case that normally would have been assigned to a district judge, not a member of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel.
Kozinski made the news more than a week ago when it was revealed that his personal website included nude women painted as cows and other sexually explicit images
His wife, Marcy Tiffany, has staged a vocal defense of her husband, calling the images “raunchy humor” but not pornography.
But Kozinski was – at the time of the revelations by the Los Angeles Times – hearing a case against Ira Isaacs, a Los Angeles man accused of producing pornography that depicted among other graphic scenes explicit bestiality. The exposure of the judge’s activities triggered a mistrial in the case, which now must be reassembled if prosecutors choose to move forward.
The report by Mark Kernes told of a new trial date – April 22 – for the obscenity trial for Isaacs. It had been scheduled to begin on Feb. 27 for the “importation or transportation of obscene material for sale or distribution.”
The delay was attributed to the certification of potential jurors, the report, from February, said.
“The reason we were postponed was because the jury commissioner couldn’t certify that the potential jurors in the jury pool came from all over the central district [of California],” explained Roger Jon Diamond, attorney for Isaacs. “It’s constitutionally required that jurors come from the entire district where the federal court sits … In our particular case, we were willing to stipulate that the jurors only need to come from Los Angeles; we’re not insisting that they come in from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara and Ventura County, but the judge did not want to gamble, and feels he wants to do it by the book.”
The report continued, “That judge is U.S. District Court Judge George King, who as a federal prosecutor in the late ’60s won a conviction against adult producer William Pincus, only to have Pincus’ conviction overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Kozinski, who has a reputation as a defender of the First Amendment and free speech rights, has explained he was assigned the case as part of a regular, routine, and random assignment basis.
Court officials today declined to explain to WND how the change from King to Kozinski was accomplished.
Dave Madden, a spokesman for the 9th Circuit, confirmed Kozinski got the assignment “randomly,” but he also confirmed for WND that only the appeals court judges themselves can decide if and when they are available for such assignments.
Clerks for King told WND that they were not allowed to release the date the case was moved from King’s caseload to Kozinski’s.
A special panel from the U.S. 3rd Circuit has been appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to investigate whether there was any misconduct on Kozinski’s part.
Walter K. Stapleton, one of the judges appointed to the five-member panel, told the Los Angeles Times investigators still are orienting themselves in the case.
But Judith Reisman, a researcher and author who has debunked many of Alfred Kinsey’s assumptions about sexual choices and freedoms in her book, “Kinsey: Crimes & Consequences,” said the fact that Kozinski admitted having such images on his computer raises alarm flags for her.
Reisman, of whom Notre Dame professor Charles E. Rice said, “Dr. Reisman’s study supports the conclusion that Alfred Kinsey’s research was contrived, ideologically driven and misleading,” said she would hope that investigators already have taken possession of the judge’s computers to search them for other images that may run contrary to community standards.
She told WND her sources report King had the case and was preparing for trial when Kozinski “took it from him.”
Kozinski, 57, earlier said he was unaware the computer into which the images were loaded was accessible to the public, and he blocked that access. He also explained that his son claimed credit for uploading some of the images.
Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor who specializes in legal ethics, told the Times Kozinski’s objectivity now can be questioned because of the issue.
“The phrase ‘sober as a judge’ resonates with the American public,” Gillers said. “We don’t want them to reveal their private selves publicly. This is going to upset a lot of people.”
But Reisman, citing the images including a pictorial of a woman saving her pubic hair and other images of masturbation, public sex and contortionist sex, said the case has gone far beyond just having Kozinski’s judgment called into question.
“He’s got a massive conflict … and significant additional problems,” she told WND.
“What we find as [some people] in the public eye are falling, they have totally lost their boundaries. Having this kind of material on any kind of website already indicates that he has lost his way, his boundaries, his perceptions,” she said.
“The power of somebody who has a hidden pathology over others in the judicial system [is alarming,]” she said.
She likened the situation to an epidemic of cholera, where the disease is rampant sometimes before significant symptoms appear.
“The effects on people in terms of decision-making … are so serious,” she said.
Then there is the next step, too, she said – those individuals who have been sending Kozinski such material, and to whom he may have been sending it.
“He ought to be removed from the bench obviously. He ought to be investigated,” she said.
“[Expecting] any woman or child or family or Christian or any traditional American … to get justice in this kind of a system is ludicrous,” she said.
“This is a judge with no judgment,” she said.
The Times reported before the site was taken down, visitors to http://alex.kozinski.com were greeted with the message: “Ain’t nothin’ here. Y’all best be movin’ on, compadre.” The newspaper said adding “/stuff” to the address revealed a hodgepodge of material, including music files, essays, cartoons and family photos.
The newspaper said the files containing “sexual content” were discovered by Cyrus Sanai, a Beverly Hills lawyer who has had disputes with Kozinski and other judges.
Tiffany cited Sanai’s “role” in revealing the computer files. She describes him as a “disgruntled attorney/litigant” who has had differences with numerous federal judges.
Although Kozinski was not initially involved, he “wrote a public defense” of the judges, “and thus made himself a target,” she wrote.