Obscenity Judge Posted Obscenity Himself

by Venomous Kate

When Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography that “I’ll know it when I see it,” he no doubt believed his fellow justices would share his discerning eye. Apparently, the chief judge in the 9th circuit does: the judge posted explicit adult images on his own website… while presiding over the obscenity trial of a Los Angeles adult filmmaker.

In an interview Tuesday with The Times, Kozinski acknowledged posting sexual content on his website. Among the images on the site were a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. He defended some of the adult content as “funny” but conceded that other postings were inappropriate.

Kozinski, 57, said that he thought the site was for his private storage and that he was not aware the images could be seen by the public, although he also said he had shared some material on the site with friends.

Judge Kozinski, known as a champion of 1st Amendment and free speech rights, described the material on his site as “odd and interesting” but said he does not consider it obscene. Among the images, a tranny’s striptease and contortionist sex, including a man performing oral sex on himself. Only users of his site (http://alex.kozinski.com/) who knew which subdirectory to type in were able to access the racy stuff. Everyone else would simply find his legal writings and articles. The site has since been taken down.

Kind of puts a whole new twist on the phrase “Here comes the judge,” doesn’t it?

2 Comments to “Obscenity Judge Posted Obscenity Himself”

  1. My first take was that if the Kozinski material was similar to the “porn” in the trial he is presiding over (it reportedly included “fetish” and “bestiality” themes), given that Kozinski had publicly commented to the The Times that he did not think the material on his home server was “obscene”, a reasonable person might doubt his impartiality to sit on such a case.

    However, I have since looked at the material myself, and in doing so have concluded there is no legal or moral issue involved.

    There is nothing there that is “obscene”, and most of the material is not even pornographic.

    For example, the so called “bestiality” themed material is simply a humorous (in a juvenile way) You Tube style video of a visibly aroused donkey chasing a laughing fat guy around a field. It is not intended to arouse.

    The other talked about item in reality consisted of two gorgeous fashion models whose naked bodies are painted to look like cow hide. They are not doing anything sexual, and are smiling. Hardly controversial stuff. I have seen racier photos in Vogue and Esquire–let alone Playboy and Penthouse.

    The so called “striptease” “slideshow” is simply one of those PowerPoint joke email attachments that invite the reader to “spot the real woman” as opposed to the sprinkled in transsexuals. Except for the naked “reveals” I saw the same thing on a Maury Povich TV episode. I used to get stuff like this all the time from some of my real estate clients.

    Second, the material was maintained on a family server that stored family photos, videos, and the like. An archive where the Kozinski family stored digital files of all sorts.

    While the site was not password protected, one would have to know the web directory extension name to access it, since none of the material was indexed or registered with any search engine. This was a private web archived file that a persistent former disgruntled litigant prowled around and essentially hacked in to find and then download without permission in order to hurt Kozinski. The fact that Kozinski was temporarily in Los Angeles presiding over a pornography trial, and that the material was leaked to a Los Angels newspaper as that trial was just getting underway speaks volumes about the motives of the hacker/leaker.

    Unfortunately, the story line “judge presiding over porn trial gets caught with porn” is just too “dog bites man” for the media to look beneath the surface of the that rather appealing sound bite—so the story has rocketed around the world—just at the malicious hacker intended.

    Judge Kozinski treats his clerks well (by all accounts, very well), has a brilliant legal mind, has a reputation for intellectual honesty, does not take himself too seriously, is an all around nice guy, a good husband and father, and he has been badly embarrassed by what has turned out to be a tempest in a teapot.

  2. I have an immense amount of respect for Judge Kozinski’s legal mind. And I do agree there is a world of difference between disseminating pornography and maintaining files on a home server intended only for friends’ access.

    I’m also inclined to agree with the gist of your comment, and the Judge’s own remark that titillating, adult-oriented humor is not at all the same thing as actual porn.

    Having not seen the stuff, I don’t know what my opinion of the Judge’s files would be. My point was primarily to emphasize the stupidity of using Justice Potter’s original statement as a touchstone for legal determinations of what constitutes pornography.