- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) | A federal judge who reportedly posted pornographic images on his personal Web site is calling for an investigation of his own conduct.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said he asked a court ethics panel to initiate proceedings after the Los Angeles Times reported that he posted lewd photos and videos on a publicly accessible Web site.

Chief Judge Kozinski said Thursday that he will cooperate in the investigation.

On Wednesday, the chief judge of the country’s largest federal appeals court was forced to suspend an obscenity trial he was presiding over after sexually explicit images posted to his family’s Web site became public.

The Times reported that Chief Judge Kozinski posted sexual material on his personal Web site and then blocked access after being interviewed about it Tuesday evening.

Chief Judge Kozinski, 57, told the Times he thought the material on his site, which included a video of a man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal, couldn’t be seen by the public. The judge said he didn’t think any of the images were obscene.

“Is it prurient? I don’t know what to tell you,” he told the newspaper. “I think it’s odd and interesting. It’s part of life.”

Yale Kozinski, the judge’s film editor son, told the New York Times on Wednesday that the site is registered to him and he maintains it. Friends and family are able to post there, he said.

“The fact that it was publicly accessible actually is my fault, too,” Mr. Kozinski told the newspaper. “I made a mistake in configuring it.”

Neither father nor son made clear Wednesday who posted the images in question. Chief Judge Kozinski said earlier that he didn’t think any of them were obscene.

He suspended until Monday the trial of Ira Isaacs, who is charged with obscenity for selling movies depicting bestiality and extreme fetishes involving feces and urination. Appellate judges such as Chief Judge Kozinski occasionally handle trial court cases.

Chief Judge Kozinski told lawyers in the case he wanted to give them time to consider whether to ask that he be disqualified.

Federal prosecutors were discussing their options, Department of Justice lawyer Kenneth Whitted said.

At best, the exposure of his Web site is an embarrassing turn of events for Chief Judge Kozinski, who reached the pinnacle of a long, illustrious and colorful judicial career in November when he was appointed chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over nine western states.

The appointment capped a 26-year career on the bench that began at age 32 in 1982, when he was named chief of the newly created federal claims court, which handles lawsuits related to federal contracts.

Three years later, President Reagan appointed him to the 9th Circuit, making him the youngest federal appellate judge in the country.

President George H.W. Bush seriously considered nominating Chief Judge Kozinski for high-court openings in 1990 and 1991, though the jurist hasn’t received the same considerations from the current Bush administration.

Still, Chief Judge Kozinski has a sterling reputation as an eloquent opinion writer and a titan on the bench, even while his off-the-bench eccentricities run the gamut.

Chief Judge Kozinski, 57, was born in Romania to Holocaust survivors and came to America when he was 12. Six years later, he won a date in 1968 while appearing on the TV show “The Dating Game” after greeting the contestant with “good afternoon, flower of my heart.”

It’s unclear whether Chief Judge Kozinski faces any court discipline. Circuit judges are appointed for life and can only be fired by Congress, though fellow jurists can impose censures.

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