Someone’s July 4th weekend is off to a good start. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, has been cleared of misconduct by the panel of Third Circuit judges that was tasked with investigating him. As you may recall, Chief Judge Kozinski called for an investigation of himself, after it was revealed that he had a “website” — which wasn’t really a website, for reasons previously explained by the judge’s wife, Marcy Tiffany — containing some sexually explicit material.
The Third Circuit Judicial Council’s unanimous opinion, authored by Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, is available here (PDF). It was actually filed on June 5, but only made public today. It’s thorough and lengthy, weighing in at 38 pages, and describes in detail the extensive investigation conducted by the council (with the assistance of outside lawyers, from Dechert and Morgan Lewis, and a technology consultant).
To those with a deeper familiarity with the facts of the case, as opposed to just the headlines, Chief Judge Kozinski’s vindication is not surprising. The judge violated no law; rather, the “website” — actually just a private family file server, although imperfectly secured for a period of time, as explained in the opinion — was a personal matter unrelated to his judicial duties. To the extent that the (overblown) public controversy created a problem in an obscenity trial that Judge Kozinski was presiding over at the time, any problem was obviated when the judge recused himself. And let’s not forget that the whole controversy was originally kicked up by a disgruntled litigant, Cyrus Sanai, who tried peddling the story for months before someone finally bit — and who “has been targeting Kozinski for years,” as noted by Ted Frank.
So congratulations, Judge Kozinski, on putting this matter behind you. We look forward to catching up with you at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference later this month.
A few updates and links, after the jump.
Further Update: More discussion over at the WSJ Law Blog, which notes that Kozinski received letters of support from leading legal ethics gurus — e.g., NYU’s Stephen Gillers, Northwestern’s Steven Lubet, and Hofstra’s Monroe Friedman — and which includes a statement from a “pleased” Chief Judge Kozinski.
In re: Complaint of Judicial Misconduct [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit]
Third Circuit Concludes Proceeding Against Kozinski Without Finding of Misconduct [Patterico's Pontifications]
A ‘Pleased’ Kozinski Cleared of Wrongdoing [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski