SAN FRANCISCO – Six women who served as clerks or externs at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allege to the Washington Post that Judge Alex Kozinski subjected them to inappropriate sexual comments or conduct, including asking them to watch pornography in his chambers, the newspaper reported Friday.
Heidi Bond, who clerked for the Pasadena, California-based judge from 2006 to 2007, told the newspaper she recalled three instances in which he asked her to look at images of naked people. She said one set of images was of college-age students where some were “inexplicably naked while everyone else was clothed.” Another set was a type of digital flip book that allowed users to mix and match heads, torsos and legs to create an image of a naked woman.
Bond said the judge asked if she thought the pornography was photo-shopped or if it aroused her sexually.
“I was in a state of emotional shock, and what I really wanted to do was be as small as possible and make as few movements as possible and to say as little as possible to get out,” said Bond, now 41.
Kozinski, who is 67 and still serving as a judge on the court, said in a statement to the newspaper that he has had more than 500 employees in his chambers over a 35-year career as judge. “I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done,” he said.
A spokesman for the court, David Madden, referred further comment to Chuck Winner of Winner & Associates. Winner did not immediately return a request for comment.
Kozinski is a prominent judge who was chief judge from 2007 to 2014 of the 9th Circuit, the largest federal appeals court circuit in the country. He is known for his irreverent opinions and his clerks often win prestigious clerkships at the Supreme Court.
The Post interviewed Bond and Emily Murphy, a law professor who worked for a different judge on the 9th Circuit, in on-the-record interviews. The four other women were not named out of fear they might face retaliation.
Murphy said she was discussing training regimens with other clerks at a San Francisco hotel in 2012 when Kozinski approached her and said the gym in the 9th Circuit courthouse was nice because other people were seldom there.
He then said if that were the case, she should work out naked, according to Murphy and two others present at the time who spoke to the Post.
The newspaper interviewed another former clerk of the judge who said he showed her porn; she declined to provide specifics out of fear the judge could identify her.
The women did not file formal complaints at the time.
In 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported that Kozinski had an email list that he used to distribute crude jokes to and he had a publicly accessible website that contained pornography. A judicial investigation found that Kozinski did not intend for the material to be accessed by the public.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.