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Kozinski Porn, Harassment Suit Should Be Revived, Attorney Says

May 11, 2021, 10:37 PM

The California lawyer who years ago complained about pornography on Alex Kozinski’s personal website asked a federal court to revive allegations that the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit and various current and former judges were aware of the porn that was the subject of media coverage in 2008, but helped keep it quiet and retaliated against those who sought to expose misconduct.

Attorney Cyrus Sanai alleged in a 2019 suit that the judicial council “issued a published censure” of him and tried to have him disbarred after he filed a “valid misconduct complaint” against Kozinski over a decade ago.

Fifteen women, including some former law clerks, accused Kozinski of groping them, showing them pornography, or making off-color comments. Kozinski retired shortly after the allegations surfaced.

In April, Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the lawsuit.

Sanai’s allegations against several judges were based on their official acts, Rogers said in the opinion, and dismissed these and the claims against the judicial council based on sovereign immunity.

The remaining judges, including Kozinski, are entitled to absolute and quasi-judicial immunity, the court said. This “expansive” doctrine can’t be pierced even when judges conspire with one party to rule against another party, it noted.

Sanai sought to vacate Rogers’ dismissal of his suit Monday, arguing she failed to disclose relevant connections or recuse herself from the case.

Rogers refused to disclose information that should have been disclosed, including her close working relationship with one of the named defendants, and her candidacy for a position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Sanai said.

She repeatedly plagiarized briefs filed by defendants, making materially false statements about the legal background of the case without actually reading Sanai’s arguments, he said. “Any reasonable person would suspect she is the tool of the DOJ and its clients, who are fellow judges in this Circuit,” he wrote.

Rogers’ candidacy for a position on the Ninth Circuit gives her a financial interest in ruling for the defendants. That candidacy could be torpedoed if she is “blackballed” by sitting or former federal judges, Sanai said.

Sanai represents himself. The U.S. Department of Justice represents the defendants.

The case is Sanai v. Kozinski, C.C.N.D. Cal., No. 4:19-cv-08162, 5/10/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maeve Allsup in San Francisco at mallsup@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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