LOS ANGELES - Due to the overwhelmingly negative publicity Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski has received over the sexually oriented photos that appeared on his Website, Kozinski has declared a mistrial in the obscenity case he has been presiding over for the past week: U.S. v. Ira Isaacs.
"In light of the public controversy surrounding my involvement in this case I have concluded that there is a manifest necessity to declare a mistrial," Kozinski wrote in an order issued earlier today. "I recuse myself from further participation in the case and will ask the chief judge of the District Court to reassign it to another judge."
Kozinski, at his own request, will also face an ethics panel made up of his fellow Ninth Circuit judges, to assess whether Kozinski committed any misconduct in accepting the Isaacs case in the first place, knowing that Kozinski (or possibly his son Yale - reports are unclear) had posted the sexual material on the Internet under a site with Kozinski's name as the URL. Also, in an apparent excess of caution, Kozinski has asked U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to convene an ethics panel of judges outside the Ninth Circuit to consider the matter as well.
Roger Jon Diamond, Isaacs' attorney, has told KNBC.com, "This is a sad day for our country when zealots in the Department of Justice can try to destroy the reputation of a fine judge by threatening a recusal motion," and has said that he will attempt to prevent any judge who doesn't look at pornography from presiding over the case.
Perhaps even worse for Kozinski, right-wing pro-censorship groups led by Family Research Council are calling for Kozinski to step down from his position as Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit.
"Kozinski not only defended the rights of people to sell revolting - and potentially illegal - smut, but he advocated that his staff be able to view this content at work!," wrote FRC president Tony Perkins yesterday. "'This is a funny joke,' the judge said about the controversy. But few Americans are laughing. They, like FRC, believe that Kozinski is ill-equipped to try an obscenity case when he clearly does not understand the definition of obscene. We call for his recusal in this case and a reexamination of his fitness as chief of one of the most important courts in the entire nation."