The chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overseeing a case exploring the extreme fringe of pornography, suspended the obscenity trial after a newspaper reported the judge had posted sexually explicit photos and videos on his own Web site.
Judge Alex Kozinski granted a highly-unusual joint prosecution and defense motion to suspend a trial this week. The case involves charges of obscenity against Ira Isaacs for films he markets.
As the jury listened to opening statements in a Los Angeles courtroom, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site that Kozinski had posted sexual material on his Web site and then blocked access after being interviewed about it Tuesday evening. The suspension of the trial came after jurors spent hours at the Pasadena offices of the 9th Circuit watching videos of bestiality and extreme fetishes that are evidence in the trial. Isaacs, a 57 year old Los Angeles businessman, is charged with four counts, including importation or transportation of obscene material for sale. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Prosecutors also are seeking forfeiture of assets obtained through his video sales.
Jurors in the obscenity case are being asked to decide whether the films Isaacs distributed are obscene under federal law. They must decide if the films appeal to a loathsome or degrading type of sexual intercourse and whether the sexual conduct is “patently offensive,” judging by the community’s standards.
Judge Kozinski, also 57, was assigned to oversee the trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under a program in which appellate judges occasionally handle criminal trials at the district court level. Kozinski became the youngest federal appeals court judge in the nation when he was appointed at age 35 to the bench by former President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Not surprisingly, he is known as a strong defender of free speech and First Amendment rights.
Before the judge’s personal site was blocked, visitors to http://alex.kozinski.com saw a message: “Ain’t nothin’ here. Y’all best be movin’ on, compadre.” Visitors who knew about a subdirectory could see the sexually explicit materials, as well as some of Kozinski’s legal writings and personal photos, the Times said. The images included a video of a “half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal” and a picture of nude women on all fours painted to look like cows. The Times also described a wide range of other types of sexual imagery.
Kozinski told the Times he thought the material on his Web site couldn’t be seen by the public. He said he didn’t believe the images were obscene.
“Is it prurient? I don’t know what to tell you,” he told the Times. “I think it’s odd and interesting. It’s part of life.”
Kozinski indicated to the attorneys involved in the Isaacs trial that he would be willing to recuse himself – but Judge Kozinski may find himself more than just recused from this trial.
“If this is true, this is unacceptable behavior for a federal court judge,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reportedly said through a spokesman. Amen, sister – naked women painted like cows are a part of whose life???