Federal appeals court judge rebuked over his explicit Internet files

Chris Rizo Jul. 3, 2009, 2:00am

Alex Kozinski

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-A panel of federal judges has admonished Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, for placing sexually explicit photos and videos on an Internet server that could be accessed by the public.

Kozinski, 58, called for the formal investigation amid public controversy over the material.

The panel said they found that Kozinski's "possession of sexually explicit offensive material combined with his carelessness in failing to safeguard his sphere of privacy was judicially imprudent."

In the opinion written by Anthony Scirica, chief judge of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges also said Kozinski's actions "can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the institution of the federal judiciary."

Kozinski has apologized for his carelessness in posting the material to the server that was accessible by the public.

"I have caused embarrassment to the federal judiciary," he told the panel. "And thus whatever shame was cast on me personally, it reflected on my colleagues and our system of justice as well."

Kozinski was presiding over a closely watched obscenity trial in Los Angeles in June 2008 when the Los Angeles Times reported the judge's Web site contained lewd materials.

In a statement Thursday, Kozinski said the judges' opinion affirmed that the materials on the Internet server were intended to be private.

"Our 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has much important work to do, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to accomplish our goals," Kozinski said.

On the panel were 3rd Circuit Judges Marjorie Rendell and Walter Stapleton; U.S. District Chief Judge Harvey Bartle III of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Chief Judge Garrett Brown of the District of New Jersey.

Kozinski was appointed to the San Francisco-based appeals court by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. He is considered by many legal observers a judicial conservative on most issues.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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