Judge admonished over Web sex files

Associated Press / July 3, 2009
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PHILADELPHIA - A high-ranking federal judge who made sexually explicit material available on his website was cleared with an admonishment yesterday by fellow judges.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California was “careless’’ and “judicially imprudent’’ in possessing the material and not safeguarding his files, the panel found. He also failed to fully correct the problem when it was discovered, the judges said.

However, the panel found no need to discipline Kozinski because he recused himself from an obscenity trial underway when news broke last year about the explicit photos and videos available on the website.

Kozinski has said he thought the material could not be seen by the public. The judge has also said he didn’t believe any of the images were obscene.

“Is it prurient? I don’t know what to tell you,’’ he told the Los Angeles Times in a June 2008 interview. “I think it’s odd and interesting. It’s part of life.’’

Kozinski, 58, has since apologized for embarrassing the federal judiciary, according to the 41-page decision released yesterday by the Philadelphia-based Third Circuit.

“His conduct exhibit(ed) poor judgment,’’ Chief Circuit Judge Anthony J. Scirica wrote. “Moreover, once the Judge became aware in 2007 that offensive material could be accessed by members of the public, his inattention to the need for prompt corrective action amounted to a disregard of a serious risk of public embarrassment.’’

Still, the panel concluded that the public admonishment, combined with his apology and steps he took to remove the material, should end the matter.

Kozinski told investigators he sometimes saved e-mail attachments in a subdirectory without looking at them. He said he did not realize they would become available to the public when the family later put a file server online so they could access personal files when away from home.