One of the highest-ranking federal judges in the United States, who is currently presiding over an obscenity trial in Los Angeles, has maintained his own publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos.
Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledged in an interview with The Times that he had posted the materials, which included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Some of the material was inappropriate, he conceded, although he defended other sexually explicit content as "funny."
Kozinski, 57, said that he thought the site was for his private storage 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. After the interview Tuesday evening, he blocked public access to the site.
After details about the website were published on latimes.com this morning, the judge offered to entertain motions to recuse himself from the obscenity trial of Hollywood filmmaker Ira Isaacs, who is accused of distributing criminally obscene sexual fetish videos depicting bestiality and defecation.
Prosecutors said they were conferring with supervisors within the Department of Justice about how to proceed. In the meantime, they wanted jurors to be admonished to disregard publicity in the case. Defense attorney Roger Diamond made no objection to Kozinski continuing to hear the case, which began with opening statements this morning.
This afternoon jurors were taken to the appeals court’s offices in Pasadena to view three videos at issue in Issacs’ trial.
Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor who specializes in legal ethics, told The Times that Kozinski should recuse himself from the Isaacs case because "the public can reasonably question his objectivity" concerning the issues at hand.
Gillers, who has known Kozinski for years and called him "a treasure of the federal judiciary," said he took the judge at his word that he did not know the site was publicly available. But he said Kozinski was "seriously negligent" in allowing it to be discovered.