Beverly Hills Attorney Fingered Kozinski’s Porn Stash
LOS ANGELES — Opening arguments were getting underway during the obscenity trial of scat porn producer Ira Isaacs yesterday morning when the Los Angeles Times broke the story that the judge presiding over the case, chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Alex Kozinski, had published pornographic material on his personal website.
Kozinksi, a judicial conservative and noted advocate of free speech, is considered a possible candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court. He is famous for personally disabling filters for three appellate circuit court offices because administrators had blocked access to pornographic sites.
According to the Times article, content on the judge’s site included photos 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. The site also contained pictures of urination and defecation, though they were not presented in a sexual context, the paper said.
Beverly Hills attorney Cyrus Sanai claimed he alerted the media to the images on the judge’s website and had sent CDs with the information to several news organizations in January.
“When I heard that Kozinski was presiding over the pornography case, I said ‘He doesn’t have enough porn? He needs more farm animal stuff’?” Sanai told XBIZ.
The pair’s feud dates back to 2005 when Sanai wrote an article that called attention to what the attorney claimed were examples of 9th Circuit court judges ignoring circuit precedents. Kozinski responded with a rebuttal article of his own. Kozinski’s mistake in that snafu was in mentioning the attorney’s personal claim in one of the disputed issues since judges are barred from commenting or lobbying on pending cases.
Sanai revealed to XBIZ that he had been monitoring the judge’s site periodically and came across the pornographic material in December.
“Christmas Eve last year, Santa Claus decides to give me a present,” Sanai told XBIZ. “I found a link to the sub-directories on Kozinski’s website. And I found pornographic images, racially sensitive humor, personal photos and MP3 files.”
Sanai said he began his campaign to expose the judge in an effort to reestablish the principal that judges are not above the law. Sanai added that he had no qualms with the pornographic material on the judge’s site but with the hardline position against copyright infringers the judge has maintained despite the fact that his site was loaded with more than a dozen MP3 tracks.
If Kozinski’s friends or members of the public visited his site and downloaded any of the songs he could be held liable for violating civil copyright laws.
“Kozinski should be made to pay the copyright holders, it should come out of his salary,” Sanai told XBIZ. “It’s one thing if he were subscribing to Playboy or had a few favorite Vivid girls whose DVDs he purchased, but by maintaining this site he becomes a mini adult entertainment distributor.”
Calls made to the 9th Circuit Court’s press office for comment went unanswered.
Sanai’s disclosure of the site, and the consequent Times articles have led to a 48-hour suspension of the trial.
Attorney Roger Jon Diamond, representing defendant Ira Isaacs, said he opposed recusal, but according to the Associated Press, Department of Justice lawyer Kenneth Whitted said the government was conferring internally about its options.
“Based on the Times article, I am concerned with invasion of privacy by the media of public officials,” Isaacs’ attorney Roger Jon Diamond told XBIZ. “I don’t think its fair to the judge that his private personal situation be investigated. I think [this] might discourage other people from going into public office, whether you are president of the U.S., a judge or U.S. senator you should have some privacy. But this does reflect the argument we are making, that pornography is not something that anyone should be ashamed of.”
“I don’t think Judge Kozinski should recuse himself,” Katrina Dewey, CEO of online legal community LawDragon.com told XBIZ. “He committed an error in judgment by having such images available on his personal site and he is facing significant consequences for this lack of judgment. However, he is the same brilliant and fair jurist today that he was before the disclosure of the images. The only question is if he will be overly sensitive to either side coming, as the trial does, amidst these disclosures. If Kozinski stays on the case, it will certainly be more of a circus.”
“I don’t see any solid legal reason for him to be taken off it. If he leaves the case, is every future judge going to be asked what images they have on their home computer? That’s not a direction we should move towards.”
Late Thursday, Kozinski called for an investigation of himself.
Kozinski is required under new rules recently adopted by the Judicial Council to order the investigation. Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and Disability require the chief judge to order an investigation when questions of misconduct arise against a judge.
Misconduct is defined in part as: "conduct occurring outside the performance of official duties if the conduct might have a prejudicial effect on the administration of the business of the courts, including a substantial and widespread lowering of public confidence in the courts among reasonable people."
"It's what he's required to do so it doesn’t surprise me," Sanai said. "It's an eventuality and frankly he had to do it. It would have been added as a misconduct against him."
"You have a duty of disclosure as a judge if there's something about you or your background that might cause a reasonable person to question your impartiality."
Jurors were scheduled to resume viewing footage from Isaacs’ films 9:30 a.m. Monday at the 9th Circuit courthouse in Pasadena.