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Court calls for inquiry into Judge Alex Kozinski accusations

A federal judge Thursday said there are grounds to open an inquiry into allegations of judicial misconduct against Ju...

Posted: Dec 15, 2017 8:32 AM
Updated: Dec 15, 2017 8:32 AM

A federal judge Thursday said there are grounds to open an inquiry into allegations of judicial misconduct against Judge Alex Kozinski, after multiple former clerks and junior staffers came forward with allegations of inappropriate sexual actions against him.

Kozinski, who for many years served as chief judge on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, is being accused of having subjected a number of the court's female staffers to a range of inappropriate sexual actions, including as recently as 2012, The Washington Post reported.

In a two-page order, 9th Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Thomas said the inquiry is needed "in the interest of the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts." Thomas has requested that the inquiry be conducted by another federal circuit.

Additionally, the 9th Circuit's public information officer confirms reports that "one or more" of Kozinski's current clerks has resigned.

One woman said that Kozinski made her look at porn on several occasions, asking for her opinions about what she saw and if it sexually aroused her, the Post reported. Another said that while she was with a group of other clerks at a hotel in San Francisco in 2012, Kozinkski told her that, due to the emptiness of the hotel gym, she should work out naked.

Kozinski previously rebuffed the previous accusations against him telling CNN in a statement, "I have been a judge for 35 years and during that time have had over 500 employees in my chambers. I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them. I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done."

Thursday's news comes after a Slate reporter added her name to the chorus of woman accusing Kozinski of inappropriate sexual behavior.

In an article Wednesday, Dahlia Lithwick wrote of experiences she had with Kozinski in the 1990s that included an instance where he made her feel "very dirty" and an atmosphere of "open secrets" within the clerking structure.

Contacted by CNN following the Slate article, Kozinski responded: "Thank you for the opportunity to comment. I've been advised not to speak to the press so I have no comment."

Accusations from Slate reporter

Lithwick said the first time she met Kozinski was in 1996 while a clerk for another judge. At a reception she was introduced to Kozinski, who she recalled made her feel "quite small and very dirty."

She wrote that without her prompting, a former fellow clerk described that interaction in an email to Lithwick this week: "He completely ignored me and appeared to be undressing you with his eyes," he wrote. "I had never seen anyone ogle another person like that and still have not seen anything like it. Was so uncomfortable to watch, and I wasn't even the subject of the stare."

Lithwick described it as the first of many interactions she had with the judge that she deemed inappropriate, including a late night phone call where she says Kozinski asked her what she was wearing. She said at the time that she reported the interaction to her own judge who was the chief judge on the court at the time, Procter Hug, who "looked horrified," but nothing else came of it.

Hug did not respond to CNN's requests for comment.

"Even though he never put his mouth directly on mine or clasped my throat, his consistent way of greeting me -- with a kiss on the cheek that always lasted a few seconds too long, in front of colleagues I respected if not revered, so prolonged that others noted it -- was unwanted," Lithwick wrote of Kozinski.

Lithwick wrote that Kozinski's actions were well-known.

"Everybody knew. This is the problem with a system of 'open secrets.' All the clerks and former clerks in Kozinski's orbit knew and understood that you assumed the risk and accepted the responsibilities of secrecy," she wrote.

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