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Kozinski's Investigators Complete Their Report

Next stop: Censure? Or exoneration?

Kozinski's Investigators Complete Their Report

PASADENA, Calif. – The five-member judicial council of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has now received the report on Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski compiled by its special judicial committee, according to the Daily Journal legal newspaper ... but what will happen as a result of the report is anyone's guess.

As AVN readers know, Kozinski's troubles began when the Los Angeles Times ran a snarky article revealing that the judge had created a secret sex-laden website full of images and short videos that included "images of masturbation, public sex and contortionist sex," "a slide show striptease featuring a transsexual," a folder containing "a series of photos of women's crotches as seen through snug fitting clothing or underwear," as well as "themes of defecation and urination" – and all this at the time when he was presiding over the obscenity trial of specialty video producer/retailer Ira Isaacs.

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Kozinski promptly recused himself from those proceedings, announced the "manifest necessity" for a mistrial – a matter that's currently in litigation – and requested of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts that his conduct on the bench be reviewed by an impartial committee of his peers. That request is what generated the Third Circuit committee's report, which was delivered to the judicial council in late April, but reported in the Daily Journal only last week.

But while the contents of the report and its recommendations (if any) have not been made public, it is likely that the central question that the committee examined was whether Kozinski had violated Canon 2A of the Judges' Code of Conduct, which states that "a judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety" in "both the professional and personal conduct of a judge."

The committee may also have considered complaints from attorney Cyrus Sanai, a long-time enemy of Kozinski who's been described by blogger Patrick on popehat.com as "the living embodiment of the worst stereotypes of California lawyers, an arguably vexatious litigant who arguably abuses process and files frivolous motions to cause disruption to opponents" – and who has been smacked down, legally, by Kozinski at least twice. It may also have dealt with a complaint from Leonidas Mecham, a former court administrator who got into a very public dispute with Kozinski after the judge thwarted Mecham's attempts to force an Internet filtering system onto the government computers used by Kozinski and other Circuit judges – in 1998. (Hey, some grudges have real staying power.)

Regarding the material on Kozinski's website, blogger Patterico, a prosecuting attorney in Los Angeles, has done an extensive investigation himself into the site's content, and much of his conclusions can be found in previous AVN articles – but the short answer is, there's not much there there.

It's those last two complaints from Sanai and Mecham, however, that may have caused the 11-month delay in the committee's filing its report, and it's now up to the third Circuit Judicial Council to decide what punishment (if any) to mete out to Kozinski.

"If the only question was whether Judge Kozinski took adequate precautions to keep his Web site private, this investigation would probably have been over long ago," said Arthur Hellman of the University of Pittsburgh Law School. "So it seems that the special committee was investigating more than that. The 'something more' could well be the complaints filed by Mecham and Sanai."

However, the Daily Journal noted that neither Sanai nor Mecham had been interviewed by the committee following receipt of their complaints, so their effect on the committee's report may have been minimal.

Kozinski had 21 days from the filing of the committee's report and recommendation(s) to file a response to it, and while that deadline has now passed, Kozinski has remained silent about the entire situation.

(h/t to Howard Bashman of "How Appealing" for the link.)

(Pictured: Ira Isaacs)






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