The Kozinski Circus

Slate's blog on legal issues.
June 11 2008 3:42 PM

The Kozinski Circus

The problem with being a judge who loves to shock is that you're a flashy barracuda in a school of plain tuna, and you risk careening off into the high seas that are the province of public officials who are just too out there for their own good. Such is my thought after reading that Judge Alex Kozinksi


he thought was private but wasn't. The material included "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," we learn from the

los Angeles Times

. We can't judge for ourselves anymore, because the site has been wiped clean, but if Judge Kozinski says that he found the porn funny, I bet he did—and it was probably offensive, too. Herein lies the Kozinski challenge. He is a transgessor, a flouter of boundaries, a man of many appetites. When he wrote a weeklong diary for


in 1996, he told us all about going to a lingerie and pajama party. ("The Location: Gatsby's Rendezvous by the Sea, 'the house that all of Malibu deems the scandalous haven of sleepless nights.' ") When I profiled him in 2004, the

for the piece depicted him as a circus master—and he liked it enough to ask for a copy. Plenty of other examples could be inserted here, and

 has plenty of company in appreciating Judge K's quirks. Lots of reporters and court watchers have urged him onward with our appreciation. And now that we know that among the many things


appreciates are women painted to look like cows, how can we go all schoolmarmish? I know, I know, judges are supposed to be beyond reproach, and this is the opposite of that. And yes, being outed for semi-public porn-sharing while trying an obscenity case is pretty rich. It's the sort of plot twist Judge Kozinski would write into a screen play. Maybe that's the answer: Toss the bench and move to Hollywood.



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