Judicial body drops Kozinski probe because of his retirement

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Former Judge Alex Kozinski.

Former Judge Alex Kozinski won’t be investigated because of his retirement late last year from the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to an order by the judicial body that was asked to evaluate sexual misconduct allegations against him.

The Judicial Council of the 2nd Circuit said it has no authority to investigate Kozinski under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act because it applies to sitting judges. “Because the Judicial Council is without statutory authority to do anything more, we must close this matter,” the council said in a Feb. 5 order.

The National Law Journal, BuzzFeed News and the Washington Post covered the development.

The chief judge of the 9th Circuit had initiated the complaint against Kozinski based on allegations in a Washington Post story. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. referred the complaint to the 2nd Circuit for review.

The initial story in the Post reported that six former clerks or externs for Kozinski had alleged inappropriate sexual comments or behavior. A second Post story reported that nine more women had accused Kozinski of inappropriate sexual comments and conduct, including four women who reported inappropriate touching.

“We recognize that the complaint references grave allegations of inappropriate misconduct, which the federal judiciary cannot tolerate,” the 2nd Judicial Council said in its order.

The order noted that Roberts called for a judiciary working group to review safeguards to protect judicial employees from inappropriate conduct in the workplace, and the working group has since been formed.

The Judicial Council also said it was also requesting that its order be forwarded “to any relevant congressional committee for their information” and to all other judicial councils.

Kozinski said on Dec. 18 that he was resigning because he “cannot be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle.”

“I’ve always had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks alike,” Kozinski said. “In doing so, I may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace. It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent. For this I sincerely apologize.”

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