The investigation into Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski’s alleged misconduct was officially terminated by the Judicial Council of the Second Circuit Feb. 5.
The council’s action will most likely be the last action taken in the case—either by an individual or by public officials—according to judicial ethics professor Charles Gardner Geyh.
Because Kozinski resigned, the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980, which authorized the investigation, no longer applies to him, the council said.
At least 15 women, including some former law clerks, accused him of groping them, showing them pornography, or making off-color comments.
Kozinski is still entitled to his full retirement pay, Geyh told Bloomberg Law in a Feb. 6 email.
Nevertheless, just because Kozinski might avoid any further disciplinary action, it doesn’t mean that he’s “effectively unaccountable for his misconduct,” Geyh said.
“He quit to avoid being fired. He lost his job and his legacy. His career is over. He will be remembered as a judge who resigned in disgrace,” he said.
Whether or not this is enough is up for debate but “but for someone of Kozinski’s stature, it is something,” Geyh said.
Tort remedies are “presumably” available to any law clerk wishing to sue Kozinski but it’s not clear which ones apply to the situation, Geyh said.
Geyh teaches and writes in the areas of judicial conduct, ethics, and procedure at Indiana University Bloomington’s Maurer School of Law.
Battery is a possibility but only if there was non-consensual touching, Geyh said.
And it could be that the statute of limitations has run on many of the claims, he said.
The allegations go as far back as the 1980s.
Kozinski announced his immediate retirement Dec. 18. Kozinski said in a statement that it was never his intent to make his clerks feel uncomfortable, and apologized for doing so.
“I’ve always had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks alike. In doing so, I may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace,” the statement said.
Kozinski said he’s retiring because he can’t be an effective judge and simultaneously “fight this battle,” according to the statement.
Congress exercises oversight over the judiciary and disciplinary process, but the chances that Congress would pursue impeachment are “essentially nil,” Geyh said.
Congress has impeached only eight judges since 1804.
Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Thomas filed a complaint Dec. 14 against Kozinski in light of allegations of sexual misconduct.
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. transferred the complaint to the Second Circuit Judicial Council Dec. 15.
Roberts also ordered the formation of a workplace conduct working group in his 2017 end-of-year report.
To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan Stanzione in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2018 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)