Prominent Federal Judge Will Retire Immediately Amid Mounting Misconduct Allegations

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Judge Alex Kozinski, one of the nation’s most prominent jurists, announced his retirement from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, amid mounting allegations of sexual misconduct.

Fifteen women have accused the judge of harassment, inappropriate contact, lewd commentary, and unwanted propositions. The Washington Post first reported that six former clerks and court employees accused Kozinski of misconduct in early December. Nine accusers followed in the ensuing days.

“I cannot be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle,” Kozinski said in a statement. “Nor would such a battle be good for my beloved federal judiciary. And so, I making the decision to retire effective immediately.”

He also apologized to his accusers, claiming his ribald sense of humor made him incognizant to the sensitivities of others.

“It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent,” he said. “For this I sincerely apologize.”

The allegations against Kozinski run a shocking spectrum of alleged misconduct. Former clerks, employees, and colleagues in the legal community claim he showed female subordinates pornography, talked frequently about intercourse, propositioned coworkers for sexual liaisons, and groped women in social and professional settings.

The revelations prompted a raft of departures from his chambers. Several of his clerks resigned Thursday, hampering his ability to discharge judicial duties.

Chief Judge Sidney Thomas announced the 9th Circuit’s judicial council would investigate the allegations shortly after the resignations were tendered. The inquiry was referred to the disciplinary panel of the 2nd Circuit, a majority-female body.

The 1980 Judicial Conduct and Disability Act (JCDA) establishes investigative protocols for federal judges accused of “conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts.” Discipline under the JCDA can include censure or impeachment referrals. Records generated in the course of such inquiries are made public once final action is administered.


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