Six former clerks and junior staffers have come forward to accuse influential U.S. 9th Circuit Court Judge Alex Kozinski, a former chief judge, of sexual harassment. Two of the women said Kozinski, who continues to serve on the court, asked them to view porn in his chambers, according to an investigation by The Washington Post.
Heidi Bond, a novelist who writes under the name Courtney Milan and who clerked for Kozinski from 2006 to 2007, said that in one incident, the judge showed her an image of college students at a party and “some people were inexplicably naked while everyone else was clothed,” according to the report. The judge asked Bond to comment on the image, which was unrelated to any case.
In another incident, Bond said Kozinski, 67, showed her a digital flip–book used to create images of naked women.
Bond described details of the incidents on her website:
At the time, I didn’t know what to say. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be there, not without my co-clerks. It would have felt entirely different if my co-clerks—both male—were present; it would have felt like I was being treated as one of the guys. Kozinski was not known for being terribly appropriate, but I could handle that. Inappropriateness directed solely at me felt very different than chambers-wide jokes.
She said the judge then asked her if the image of the college party turned her on.
“No.” I remember feeling that I needed to not move, either physically or emotionally, that if I just treated this like this was normal it would stay normal and not get worse.
“They don’t look like they’re having fun.”
“It doesn’t do anything for me either,” he replied. “People just send me these things. I don’t know why. But I like to keep them as a curiosity. I don’t understand why people find this sort of thing arousing.”
It happened at least three times. I can’t remember exactly how many times it happened.
Following the Post’s story, which was published on Friday, Kozinski told the Los Angeles Times, “If this is all they are able to dredge up after 35 years, I am not too worried.” He also said Bond, who is a romance novelist, had asked him if he wanted an audio copy of one of her novels, which he said contained “very torrid sex.”
Law professor Emily Murphy, who worked for a different 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, recalled a 2012 incident she described as humiliating, in which Kozinski “joked” in front of others that she should work out naked at the courthouse gym.
“Those in the group tried to change the subject, Murphy and the others present said, but the judge kept steering the conversation toward the idea of Murphy exercising without clothes,” the Post reported.
Kozinski also is remembered for an incident in 2008 in which he was caught by the Los Angeles Times posting sexually explicit photos and videos on his website at the same time he was presiding over an obscenity trial. Kozinski said he wasn’t aware the website was public, and besides, he viewed the material as “funny.”
While four of the six women asked the Post to not publish their names, others have since publicly commented about Kozinski’s alleged behavior, following the newspaper’s report.
On Twitter, law professor Joanna Grossman described a memo she says Kozinski circulated while she was a clerk, referring to the creation of a Gender Bias Task Force.
“When I clerked on the Ninth Circuit, Kozinski sent a memo to all the judges suggesting that a rule prohibiting female attorneys from wearing push-up bras would be more effective than the newly convened Gender Bias Task Force,” Grossman wrote. “His disrespect for women is legendary.”
President Ronald Reagan appointed Kozinski to the 9th Circuit Court in 1985, the Post notes.