As noted in Part I of this discussion, beginning on Friday, December 8, the Hon. Alex Kozinski came under sharp public criticism for having engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with women who were serving himself or other judges as staffers or interns.
Part I viewed Kozinski’s judicial career with leftward and rightward glasses. This Part will look at the specific charges against him (charges that led him to retire from his august post on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Monday morning), and at some reactions thereto.
One former law clerk, Heidi Bond, said that while she was clerking for Kozinski he three times showed her pornography in his chambers. These were not exhibits in any pornography-related litigation before the court. Kozinski simply wanted to know whether Bond thought the photos were photoshopped or whether she personally felt aroused by them.
Bond, speaking to a reporter of one such encounter, said, “I was in a state of emotional shock, and what I really wanted to do was be as small as possible and make as few movements as possible and to say as little as possible to get out.”
At least 14 other women have made allegations analogous to Bond’s. Some have allowed press reports to use their names, others have remained anonymous. The allegations have included lewd touching and comments as well as the same kind of in chambers porn exhibitions that Bond recalls.
Left Wing View
Kozinski’s statement on his retirement contained an apology without any real admission. He said, “I’ve always had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks … 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.”
Some have decided that Kozinski’s retirement was a good opportunity to pat on the back the journalists who turned this dirty little judicial laundry into a national story. ProPublica tweeted that it was an example of “big impact from great reporting.”
One law professor, Joanna Grossman, said that Kozinski’s “disrespect for women is legendary.” She said that when she was a clerk for the 9th Circuit, he sent around a memo saying that one way to reduce gender bias would be “a rule prohibiting female attorneys from wearing push-up bras.”
Left of center commenters on twitter observed that it is Donald Trump who will nominate a new judge to fill Kozinski’s seat. Even those who think Kozinski has to go are ambivalent about this, saying that Kozinski’s successor “will be a worse judge, appointed by a President who himself is credibly accused of more serious misconduct.”
Likewise, but more wistfully, Ian Millhiser writes, “a good rule would be that [Kozinski’s] successor must be chosen by someone who didn’t brag about sexually assaulting women on tape.”
Right Wing View
Patterico, in RedState, a conservative blog, expresses his sympathy for Kozinski, whom he calls a “judge with strong libertarian leanings.” He thinks that Kozinski’s downfall was “a very effusive personality combined with perhaps a lack of sensitivity as to how people might react to certain comments or behavior.”
Sean Billings also seems sympathetic to the departing judge, regretting that he is being “pushed out.” Billings also says that it’s a good thing Hillary Clinton isn’t going to be “appointing some 39-year-old communist to replace him.”
Some conservative media are not at all sympathetic. The DailyCaller is an example of this. Its report emphasizes that this is not the first time Kozinski’s apparent interest in pornography has become a matter of scrutiny. In 2008, Kevin Daley writes, the “Los Angeles Times revealed … that he used court computers to access, maintain and curate a collection of pornography. The natter was referred to the 3d circuit for investigation, which lightly admonished him for poor judgment, but ultimately concluded his deletion of the collection effectively closed the matter.”