Seven years ago, Alex Kozinski, one of the highest-ranking federal judges in the US, helped lead a successful insurrection after discovering court administrators had installed web filters that prevented jurists from accessing pornography.
Now we know why.
The chief judge of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has been caught hosting an extensive collection of porn on his publicly-available personal website. Visitors were treated to a photo of a naked woman on all fours painted to look like cows and a half-naked man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Other images depicted contortionist and public sex, masturbation, urination, defecation and a step-by-step series of a woman shaving her pubic hair.
The material was discovered as the outspoken libertarian judge presides over a criminal obscenity trial under a program that allows appeals judges to occasionally handle criminal proceedings. Federal prosecutors have charged Ira Isaacs, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, with a variety of obscenity charges, including importation or transportation of material for that depicted beastiality.
Now legal ethicists are calling for Kozinski to recuse himself because "the public can reasonably question his objectivity" concerning issues raised in the case, according to The Los Angeles Times, which broke the story.
The images were posted to a portion of the judge's website that could only be accessed if visitors knew the exact address. Kozinski said he had thought the section was reserved for his private storage and didn't know they could be accessed by the public. Then, seeming to contradict himself, he admitted to sharing some of the images on the site with friends. He also said he accidentally loaded the images to the server and had intended to post less controversial material.
Kozinski is a judicial conservative who was appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan. In 2001, he and other appeals court judges dismantled software that administrators had installed to prevent court employees from surfing to certain types of websites, including those serving porn. The unauthorized shutdown by the maverick judges affected about a third of the country's federal court system, including more than 700 active and semiretired judges. A bureaucrat who installed the software complained at the time that the move could have resulted in wide-spread security breaches of sensitive judiciary computers.
Federal judges are appointed to life terms and can only be removed by an act of impeachment. Just to be safe, someone pulled the plug on Kozinski's website shortly after news of its racy contents broke. ®