Obscenity-Case Judge Admonished for Posting Sexually Explicit Material

Jul 2, 2009 11:00 AM PST
PHILADELPHIA — Judge Alex Kozinski embarrassed the federal judiciary because he didn’t lock down sexually explicit photos and videos on his own website, but the matter should end only with admonishment, according to a ruling made public Thursday.

Kozinski is the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who was assigned to the Ira Isaacs obscenity case in Los Angeles last year and the trial was put on hold after the judge recused himself.

Isaacs, who owns Stolen Cars Films and LA Media, 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.

His attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, said in an appeal to the 9th Circuit that Isaacs shouldn’t be retried in the case because of the double jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment. He also said that there was no manifest necessity for the declaration of the mistrial, which was declared without Isaacs consent.

Diamond has contended that Kozinski improperly recused himself, and if he did properly recuse himself, another judge could have replaced him.

That appeal is pending.

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.

Kozinski said that some of the material on his website was inappropriate, although he defended other sexually explicit content as "funny."

Kozinski said 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. 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.

On Thursday, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which was asked to investigate the judge, revealed findings of the probe relative to Alex.Kozinski.com in a 41-page decision.

“We find that the judge’s possession of sexually explicit offensive material combined with his carelessness in failing to safeguard his sphere of privacy was judicially imprudent,” the 3rd Circuit ruled. “Moreover, once the judge became aware in 2007 that offensive material could be accessed by members of the public, his inattention to the need for prompt corrective action amounted to a disregard of a serious risk of public embarrassment.”

But the 3rd Circuit said that a dismissal of judicial misconduct charges against Kozinski were appropriate.

“We determine that the judge’s acknowledgment of responsibility together with other corrective action, his apology, and our admonishment, combined with the public dissemination of this opinion, properly conclude this proceeding.”

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