Legal Ethics

Wife of 9th Circuit Chief Judge Says Her Husband Is ‘Not Into Porn’

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Updated: The wife of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says her husband “is not into porn” and the few racy materials on a computer he used are nothing more than “raunchy humor.”

Marcy Tiffany defends her husband in a post on the blog Patterico’s Pontifications. She says materials of a sexual nature constituted a “tiny percentage” of the material posted on a server that her husband shared with other family members. Cathy Catterson, the circuit and court of appeals executive for the 9th Circuit, confirmed that Kozinski’s wife wrote the post.

Tiffany, who has been married to Kozinski for more than 30 years, takes issue with a Los Angeles Times report that said the sexually explicit material on the website was extensive. “The fact is, Alex is not into porn—he is into funny—and sometimes funny has a sexual character,” she wrote.

Tiffany says the Times article “includes graphic descriptions that make the material sound like hard-core porn when, in fact, it is more accurately described as raunchy humor.”

There is a “hodgepodge” or more than 300 items in the server’s “stuff” folder, she says, but only about a half dozen have a sexual aspect. Elsewhere on the server are also family photos, children’s school papers and Kozinski’s articles.

She charges that the Times story that broke the news of sexually explicit materials “is riddled with half-truths, gross mischaracterizations and outright lies.” Kozinski recused himself from a Los Angeles pornography case following the Times’ revelations.

An ABA Journal reporter toured the website last month and also found more than a dozen mp3 music files, some of which were copyrighted. Most were songs by the parodist Weird Al Yankovic.

The Times article describes a “video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal.” Tiffany characterizes it as “a widely available video of a man trying to relieve himself [in] a field when he is attacked by a donkey he fights off with one hand while trying to hold up his pants with the other.”

She also defends the material on “women’s crotches” as one of the many “camel toe” series that is widely available on the net.

She maintains it’s wrong to describe the materials stored on her family’s file server as a “website.” Her husband didn’t remember some of the files, she said, and didn’t know if he or one of his sons had put them there. Kozinski’s son, Yale, has said he maintained the server that contained the sexually explicit pictures, and it was intended to be private.

Los Angeles Times spokesman David Lauter issued a statement defending its articles about Kozinski, saying they were “fair and accurate and raised important issues on a matter of significant public concern.” Lauter says the newspaper gave Kozinski a chance to respond once the matter became newsworthy and included his comments.

Tiffany also criticizes lawyer Cyrus Sanai, who says he told told the Los Angeles Times and other reporters about the files. She calls Sanai “a disgruntled attorney/litigant” who targeted her husband because he defended a 9th Circuit panel that refused to allow federal courts to assume jurisdiction in the divorce case for Sanai’s parents. She also alleges that Sanai has been criticized in other cases for filing baseless pleadings and abusing the legal process.

“This is a sad and dangerous lesson to anyone who dares to stand on principle and publicly speak out against people like Cyrus Sanai, who are willing to stop at nothing to wreak his petty vengeance on a good and decent man like my husband.”

Asked for comment, Sanai told he believes Tiffany did not write the post without input from Kozinski. “He’s using his wife as a sock puppet, or perhaps more respectfully, his attorney,” Sanai said. “This has clearly been directed by him.”

Sanai says he has not filed baseless pleadings or abused the legal process and that one judge who criticized him was removed from the case. He says he found the sexual materials on Kozinski’s website in an effort to find documents that Kozinski had posted referencing the divorce case of Sanai’s father.

Sanai maintains Kozinski should not have posted the documents or linked to them in the online version of a legal newspaper article that Kozinski wrote in 2005 disagreeing with Sanai’s views on the citation of unpublished opinions.

“The response is not and never has been an analysis of the facts but vicious personal attacks on me,” Sanai said. “Instead, like her husband, she engages in repetitive ad hominem attacks to distract attention from the underlying legal issues. In that respect, she’s learned from a master.”

Updated at 1:30 p.m. on 06-16-2008 to include comments from Sanai and at 4:25 p.m. to include comments from the Los Angeles Times spokesman.

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