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Son of 9th Circuit Chief Judge Says He Maintained Racy Website

Posted Jun 12, 2008 5:40 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: The son of Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, says he maintained the website with sexually explicit pictures that was shared by his father.

News reports of the website prompted Kozinski to issue a statement late Thursday inviting a potential investigation into his conduct.

"I have asked the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit to take steps pursuant to Rule 26, of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and Disability, and to initiate proceedings concerning the article that appeared in yesterday's Los Angeles Times," Kozinski wrote Thursday in a two-sentence statement seeking the internal review. "I will cooperate fully in any investigation."

(Meanwhile, as discussed in a subsequent ABAJournal.com post, Kozinski has recused himself from hearing a federal district court obscenity case over which he happened to have been randomly selected to preside, in a situation which helped fan the flames further when his own postings became public.)

Among the content on the site was a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Kozinski told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday evening that he hadn’t realized the website could be accessed by the public. He told the paper then that some material was inappropriate but some was funny.

Other images on the site reportedly included masturbation, public sex and a step-by-step pictorial of a woman shaving her pubic hair.

"Is it prurient? I don't know what to tell you," he told the newspaper. "I think it's odd and interesting. It's part of life."

Kozinski’s son, Yale, told the New York Times yesterday evening that he maintained the site, which also included family photos and some of his father’s articles. “This server is my private Web server,” Yale Kozinski said. “It’s owned by me. The domain is registered to me. The people who have access to put files up there are friends and family.”

Alex Kozinski was presiding over a high-profile obscenity trial when the news broke. The Associated Press reports he suspended the trial yesterday to give lawyers time to consider the issue. He indicated he would be willing to recuse himself but noted the trial had already begun and jurors had begun considering evidence, including two graphic movies.

In Tuesday's interview with the Los Angeles Times, Alex Kozinski said he had posted some of the explicit materials and he might have uploaded other items by mistake. Yesterday he spoke to the New York Times and sent and e-mail to Above the Law that said his son apparently uploaded some of the items.

“Everyone in the family stores stuff there, and I had no idea what some of the stuff is or was—I was surprised that it was there,” Alex Kozinski told Above the Law. “I assumed I must have put it there by accident, but when the story broke, Yale called and said he's pretty sure he uploaded a bunch of it. I had no idea, but that sounds right, because I sure don't remember putting some of that stuff there. I consider the server a private storage device, not meant for public access. I'd have been more careful about its contents if I had known that others could access it.”

The judge sounded a similar note in the New York Times interview, which described his comments as “moderately contrite.”

“I guess I should be more careful about access and all,” he said. “I didn’t put anything on there I think would be embarrassing.”

AP spoke to Beverly Hills, Calif., attorney Cyrus Sanai, who said he had told the Los Angeles Times about the images on the Kozinski website. He said he found them while monitoring the site as part of a dispute with the 9th Circuit in connection with his parents’ divorce. He said he contacted reporters at various publications since January in an effort to expose them.

Updated at 3: 28 p.m., June 13, 2008, to include subsequent ABAJournal.com post.

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