Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Judge Kozinski

This story about Judge Alex Kozinski is unfortunate, if a bit strange. Judge Kozinski is without a doubt a brilliant jurist, and is immensely respected by the bar. I appeared as co-counsel in front of Judge Kozinski once a few years ago; I found him to be a lively and engaging questioner, and his intellect was obvious. I don't always agree with him (though I do more often than not), but he's one of the best federal circuit judges in the country.

3 comments: said...

A list of the "funny, odd, and interesting" files on Kozinki's website:

His awareness of the popularity of these "viral videos" makes him even more qualified to maintain impartiality over a trail involving the interpretation of community standards.

Stephen Gianelli said...

My first take was that if the Kozinski material was similar to the “porn” in the trial he is presiding over (it reportedly included “fetish” and “bestiality” themes), given that Kozinski had publicly commented to the The Times that he did not think the material on his home server was “obscene”, a reasonable person might doubt his impartiality to sit on such a case.

However, I have since looked at the material myself, and in doing so have concluded there is no legal or moral issue involved.

There is nothing there that is "obscene", and most of the material is not even pornographic.

For example, the so called “bestiality” themed material is simply a humorous (in a juvenile way) You Tube style video of a visibly aroused donkey chasing a laughing fat guy around a field. It is not intended to arouse.

The other talked about item in reality consisted of two gorgeous fashion models whose naked bodies are painted to look like cow hide. They are not doing anything sexual, and are smiling. Hardly controversial stuff. I have seen racier photos in Vogue and Esquire--let alone Playboy and Penthouse.

The so called “striptease” “slideshow” is simply one of those PowerPoint joke email attachments that invite the reader to “spot the real woman” as opposed to the sprinkled in transsexuals. Except for the naked “reveals” I saw the same thing on a Maury Povich TV episode. I used to get stuff like this all the time from some of my real estate clients.

Second, the material was maintained on a family server that stored family photos, videos, and the like. An archive where the Kozinski family stored digital files of all sorts.

While the site was not password protected, one would have to know the web directory extension name to access it, since none of the material was indexed or registered with any search engine. This was a private web archived file that a persistent former disgruntled litigant prowled around and essentially hacked in to find and then download without permission in order to hurt Kozinski. The fact that Kozinski was temporarily in Los Angeles presiding over a pornography trial, and that the material was leaked to a Los Angels newspaper as that trial was just getting underway speaks volumes about the motives of the hacker/leaker.

Unfortunately, the story line “judge presiding over porn trial gets caught with porn” is just too “dog bites man” for the media to look beneath the surface of the that rather appealing sound bite—so the story has rocketed around the world—just at the malicious hacker intended.

Judge Kozinski treats his clerks well (by all accounts, very well), has a brilliant legal mind, has a reputation for intellectual honesty, does not take himself too seriously, is an all around nice guy, a good husband and father, and he has been badly embarrassed by what has turned out to be a tempest in a teapot.

Economics of Contempt said...


I'm in complete agreement with you. The material seems to be much less offensive than the LA Times story implied. And seeing as it was a family server, I'm not sure Judge Kozinski isn't just covering for other members of his family (seeing as he can't be fired for this). I hope this story doesn't damage his reputation too much.