Former Clerks Accuse Prominent Federal Appeals Judge of Sexual Harassment
Six former clerks and junior staffers have come forward to
accuse influential U.S. 9th Circuit Court Judge Alex Kozinski,
a former chief judge, of sexual harassment. Two of the women
said Kozinski, who continues to serve on the court, asked them
view porn in his chambers, according to an investigation by
The Washington Post.
Heidi Bond, a novelist who writes under the name Courtney Milan
and who clerked for Kozinski from 2006 to 2007, said that in
one incident, the judge showed her an image of college students
at a party and “some people were inexplicably naked while
everyone else was clothed,” according to the report. The judge
asked Bond to comment on the image, which was unrelated to any
In another incident, Bond said Kozinski, 67, showed her a
digital flip–book used to create images of naked women.
described details of the incidents on her website:
At the time, I didn’t know what to say. I remember thinking
that I didn’t want to be there, not without my co-clerks. It
would have felt entirely different if my co-clerks—both
male—were present; it would have felt like I was being
treated as one of the guys. Kozinski was not known for being
terribly appropriate, but I could handle that.
Inappropriateness directed solely at me felt very different
than chambers-wide jokes.
She said the judge then asked her if the image of the college
party turned her on.
“No.” I remember feeling that I needed to not move, either
physically or emotionally, that if I just treated this like
this was normal it would stay normal and not get
“They don’t look like they’re having fun.”
“It doesn’t do anything for me either,” he replied. “People
just send me these things. I don’t know why. But I like to
keep them as a curiosity. I don’t understand why people find
this sort of thing arousing.”
It happened at least three times. I can’t remember exactly
how many times it happened.
Following the Post’s story, which was published on
told the Los Angeles Times, “If this is all they
are able to dredge up after 35 years, I am not too worried.” He
also said Bond, who is a romance novelist, had asked him if he
wanted an audio copy of one of her novels, which he said
contained “very torrid sex.”
Law professor Emily Murphy, who worked for a different 9th
Circuit Court of Appeals judge, recalled a 2012 incident she
described as humiliating, in which Kozinski “joked” in front of
others that she should work out naked at the courthouse
“Those in the group tried to change the subject, Murphy and the
others present said, but the judge kept steering the
conversation toward the idea of Murphy exercising without
clothes,” the Post reported.
Kozinski also is remembered for an incident in 2008 in which he
was caught by the Los Angeles Times
posting sexually explicit photos and videos on his website
at the same time he was presiding over an obscenity trial.
Kozinski said he wasn’t aware the website was public, and
besides, he viewed the material as “funny.”
While four of the six women asked the Post to not
publish their names, others have since publicly commented about
Kozinski’s alleged behavior, following the newspaper’s
On Twitter, law professor Joanna Grossman described a memo she
says Kozinski circulated while she was a clerk, referring to
the creation of a Gender Bias Task Force.
“When I clerked on the Ninth Circuit, Kozinski sent a memo to
all the judges suggesting that a rule prohibiting female
attorneys from wearing push-up bras would be more effective
than the newly convened Gender Bias Task Force,” Grossman
wrote. “His disrespect for women is legendary.”
President Ronald Reagan appointed Kozinski to the 9th Circuit
Court in 1985, the Post notes.