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Will Judge in Ira Isaacs Obscenity Case Recuse Himself?

Will Judge in Ira Isaacs Obscenity Case Recuse Himself?
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Jun 11, 2008 12:00 PM PDT    Text size: 
LOS ANGELES — The judge presiding in the Ira Isaacs obscenity case revealed to the Los Angeles Times that he has maintained a publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos.

The revelation could mean that Judge Alex Kozinski may render himself recused in the case against Isaacs and his companies, Stolen Cars Films and LA Media.

Kozinski, a longtime 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals jurist, said that he posted the materials, which included 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 said that some of the material was inappropriate, although he defended other sexually explicit content as "funny."

Kozinski maintained that he thought the site was private and that he was not aware the images could be seen by the public, although he also said he had shared some material on the site with friends.

The sexually explicit material on Alex.Kozinski.com was extensive, the Times reports. There were images of masturbation, public sex and contortionist sex. There was a slide show striptease featuring a transsexual and a folder that contained a series of photos of women's crotches as seen through snug-fitting clothing or underwear. There also were themes of defecation and urination, though they are not presented in a sexual context.

Kozinski said he didn't think any of the material he posted on his website would qualify as obscene.

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

Asked whether the contents of his site should force him to step aside from the pending obscenity trial, Kozinski declined to comment. After the interview with Times reporters, he blocked public access to the site.

Kozinski said it was strictly by chance that he wound up presiding over the Issacs trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Appeals court judges occasionally hear criminal cases when they have free time on their calendars and the Isaacs case was one of two he was given, he said.

Attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who represents Isaacs and his two companies, told XBIZ Wednesday morning that he had not seen the Times article; however he said that “the judge is very smart and fair.”

“I’m confident that if we precede we will get a fair trial,” Diamond said. “[Information revealed from the Times' story] wouldn’t matter in the case.”

Other legal peers and scholars also weighed in on the Kozinski revelation.

Loyola law professor Laurie L. Levenson told XBIZ that she thought Kozinski practiced “poor judgment” and should recuse himself in the Isaacs case.

“I have to say, while we don’t hold moral codes for judges, we expect them to behave to a higher standard that what we have here,” Levenson said. “Knowing [Kozinski], I think he’ll get more defensive on this issue, and maybe his peers will have to step in.”

Isaacs faces multiple obscenity-related counts in the case. He specifically was charged with two counts of using a common carrier and interactive computer service for interstate commerce in obscene films.

The first four obscenity-related counts are in connection with videos entitled “Gang Bang Horse — ‘Pony Sex Game,’” “Mako’s First Time Scat,” “Hollywood Scat Amateurs No. 7,” and “BAE 20.” The indictment alleges that Isaacs shipped “Hollywood Scat Amateurs No. 7,” and “BAE 20” outside the state of California.

Among the items that the indictment seeks forfeiture of are three domain names and websites owned by Isaacs, ScatMovies.com, ScatCinemax.com and StolenCarFilms.com.

If convicted, Isaacs could face up to five years in prison for each count in the indictment, according to the Justice Department.

Opening statements in the trial started this morning at 9:30 a.m. Trial jurors were scheduled to travel Wednesday afternoon to the 9th Circuit's Southern California building in Pasadena to view the videos, which depict bestiality and fetishes involving feces and urine. The panel includes eight men and six women. Two will be designated alternates later in the trial.

“I feel good everyday and am confident,” Isaacs told XBIZ outside the federal courtroom in downtown Los Angeles. “I hope I will be cleared of the charges.”

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