Ethics Panel Slaps Chief Judge Alex Kozinski with a Wet Noodle for His Porn Collection - CourtSide
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Ethics Panel Slaps Chief Judge Alex Kozinski with a Wet Noodle for His Porn Collection

It's never a good time for a judge to have his large, slightly kinky and, for a time, publicly available collection of sexually explicit material written up in the LA Times.  It was an even worse time for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit when the LA Times ran a story detailing the extensive collection of suggestive or explicit images and videos on the judge's personal server.

Kozinski was in the middle of an obscenity trial when the story broke, which, needless to say was deliciously ironic and raised a suspicion that somehow the judge could be biased in favor of the defendants.  As a result of the story, Kozinski had to pause the trial to examine whether or not he should recuse himself.  Eventually he did, at the same time declaring a mistrial. 

Kozinski also asked the Ninth Circuit to conduct an inquiry into the report's allegations about him.  The Ninth Circuit in turn asked Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court to transfer the matter to another circuit, which he did, moving the investigation over to the Third Circuit. 
That court released its findings and its opinion in the matter today.  While the court found that Kozinski's lack of oversight concerning the public availability of the images was less than comendable, it thought that a quick admonishment and a little public humiliation would teach the Chief Judge a valuable lesson, and so it didn't recommend any further punishment.

Here's what the court had to say:

We find that the Judge's possession of sexually explicit offensive material combined with his carelessness in failing to safeguard his sphere of privacy was judicially imprudent. Moreover, once the Judge became aware in 2007 that offensive material could be accessed by members of the public, his inattention to the need for prompt corrective action amounted to a disregard of a serious risk of public embarrassment. We join with the Special Committee in admonishing the Judge that his conduct exhibiting poor judgment with respect to this material created a public controversy that can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the institution of the federal judiciary. We determine that the Judge's acknowledgment of responsibility together with other corrective action, his apology, and our admonishment, combined with the public dissemination of this opinion, properly conclude this proceeding.
The results of the investigation aren't really all that shocking.  No one ever alleged that Kozinski broke the law, and any questions about impartiality in the obscenity case disappeared after he disqualified himself from hearing it.  The site in question was a home network server that Kozinski hooked up to the internet without realizing that it would be publicly available  Its contents were never meant to go live. 

The whole thing was really just an embarassing personal slip-up, albeit one that came at an inopportune moment.  Because of his stature, the Chief Judge was subjected to more scrutiny than was probably warranted and the affair was blown remarkably out of proportion.

Personally, I think the whole episode just adds some additional cachet to the Legend of Alex Kozinski.  I mean, this is a Chief Judge who went on the Dating Game in his youth, fought back against a plan to block pornography from judges' computers, and has a collection of racy pictures and movies dating back to 1995. 

Kozinski is obviously a mad playa.

Or slightly sad and desperate.  You be the judge.

See Also:
The Controversy Over Judge Alex Kozinski and His Website (FindLaw's Writ)
A 'Pleased' Kozinski Cleared of Wrongdoing (WSJ Law Blog)
Chief Judge Kozinski Cleared of Misconduct By Judicial Panel (Above the Law)