Does liking porn disqualify a judge from hearing a porn case?
Maybe so, in the case of Judge Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Kozinski -- who is just one rung below the U.S. Supreme Court -- yesterday delayed the obscenity trial he was presiding over of Hollywood adult filmmaker Ira Isaacs, whose work includes scenes of bestiality and defecation. (Although Kozinski is an appeals court judge, he was sitting as the trial judge in this case.)
The Los Angles Times
found the judge had a Web site
with some pretty freakish scenes of his own, which he was sharing with friends and family.
Among the images on the site were 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. He defended some of the adult content as "funny" but conceded that other postings were inappropriate.
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.
When a reporter from the Times
asked the judge about the images, "the judge said he didn't think any of the material on his site would qualify as obscene."
"Is it prurient? I don't know what to tell you," he said. "I think it's odd and interesting. It's part of life."
He has since taken the site
Kozinski, appointed by President Regean in 1985, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court. He is considered a judicial conservative on most issues.
When it comes to matters of porn and computer privacy, Kozinski is no hypocrite.
In September 2001, Kozinski was a fierce opponent of any effort by Washington bureaucrats to monitor his computer, prompting Leonidas Ralph Mecham, the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, to remark
to the New York Times
that "Kozinski had shown 'great interest in keeping pornography available to judges,' especially of what Mr. Mecham called 'the more homosexual and exotic varieties.'"
Judge Kozinski said Mr. Mecham's comment about ''homosexual'' Web sites appeared to refer to an incident in 1998 when one of his law clerks downloaded a Web site for a San Francisco gay bookstore and the Administrative Office complained. ''I don't think we need bureaucrats in Washington looking over our shoulders for this kind of thing,'' Judge Kozinski said.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco has a long tradition of being the country's most liberal. It's backed medical marijuana and struck the words "Under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.