California Federal Court Judge Accused of Sexual Harassment Back as Practitioner

The high-profile federal court judge in California, Alex Kozinski, abruptly resigned in 2017 after he was accused of sexual harassment by at least 15 women law clerks and staff members. Now Kozinski is back as a practicing lawyer before the Ninth Circuit.

Representing as an Advocate

Kozinski is representing David Zindel in a copyright case before the 9th court. Zindel had lost a lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures for allegedly misappropriating material from a play that had been written in 1969 by Zindel’s late Pulitzer Prize winner father, Paul. The defendants had won an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2018, “The Shape of Water.”

Zindel Chose Kozinski because he has spent more than three decades as a federal judge in California, which included a stint as the 9th Circuit’s chief judge. Kozinski knows the court system and the judges, which are perceived as advantages for litigants. 

The License to Practice Law

According to court officials, they could not punish Kozinski following his resignation as they had no jurisdiction. But questions remain about the validity of the law license in such cases. California state bar association requires that the applicant should be of a “good moral character” in order to practice law. The California bar is known to suspend lawyers who may demonstrate bad behavior.

Allegations against Kozinski

The Washington Post had reported, among other things, that Kozinski touched the breast of a law student at a reception in 2016. Another lawyer said that around 2008, he had approached her when she was alone and kissed her on the lips while hugging her. 

A former judge of the US Court of Federal Claims said that Kozinski squeezed her breasts in a car following her refusal to have sex with him. He was also accused of showing porn on a computer to a clerk and asking her whether it turned her on. At least two of his clerks resigned, which possibly dealt a blow to their promising careers.

Issues of Accountability

The 9th Circuit’s soft treatment of Kozinski puts the spotlight on the serious problem of sexual harassment within the federal judiciary. About three in four federal judges are male and the US Constitution provides them a lifetime tenure.    

Following the outcry over the allegations against Kozinski, the US Supreme Court announced the formation of a working group to suggest a plan to counter sexual harassment. The group suggested better training, easier procedures to file complaints, and clearer standards. 

Consult with an Accomplished Sexual Harassment Attorney in California 

Have you suffered from sexual harassment now or in the past? If yes, you should speak to one of the experienced and skilled lawyers at Makarem & Associates who will help you pursue your rightful legal claim. Call us at 310-312-0299 to schedule a consultation, or email us at info@makaremlaw.com.

 

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