Alex Kozinski

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Alex Kozinski
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Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Title:   Judge
Station:   Pasadena, CA
Appointed by:   Ronald Reagan
Active:   11/7/1985 - Present
Chief:   2007-11/30/2014
Past post:   Court of Federal Claims
Past chief:   1982-1985
Past term:   1982-1985
Personal History
Born:   7/23/1950
Hometown:   Bucharest, Romania
Undergraduate:   UCLA, 1972
Law School:   UCLA School of Law, 1975

Alex Kozinski is a federal judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on June 5, 1985, and received his commission on November 7, 1985. In 2007, Kozinski was elevated to the position of chief judge. He served as chief judge until November 30, 2014.[1]

Kozinski was born in Bucharest, Romania but his parents, both Holocaust survivors, brought him to America in 1962.


Kozinski received his B.A. in economics from UCLA in 1972 and his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 1975.[2][1]

Professional career

  • 2007-2014: Chief judge
  • 1982-1985: Chief judge, United States Court of Federal Claims
  • 1981-1982: Special counsel, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board
  • 1981: Assistant counsel, Office of Counsel to the President
  • 1979-1981: Attorney in private practice, Washington, D.C.
  • 1977-1979: Attorney in private practice, Los Angeles, California
  • 1976-1977: Law clerk for Justice Warren Burger
  • 1975-1976: Law clerk for Judge Anthony Kennedy[1]

Judicial career

Kozinski's first judicial appointment was as chief judge at the newly-formed United States Court of Federal Claims in 1982. In 1985, age 35, Kozinski was appointed to a new seat at the Ninth Circuit by Ronald Reagan, making him the youngest federal appeals court judge in the country. Defending the court against criticism because of a controversial decision, Kozinski went on record emphasizing judicial independence:

It seems to me that this is what makes this country truly great -- that we can have a judiciary where the person who appoints you doesn't own you.[3][4]

On November 30, 2007, Judge Kozinski received the gavel as the tenth Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[5] He served as chief judge until November 30, 2014.[6]

Judicial philosophy

It is difficult to pin down Judge Kozinski's judicial philosophy, which he apparently relishes. He states, "I disagree with the liberals on the bench half of the time and the conservatives the other half."[2] Though he is widely considered a staunch supporter of free speech, Kozinski has also said, "I am not categorically always on the side of free speech or privacy or anything else."[2]

Size of government

In theory, in a purely minimalist libertarian state, one would have the most efficient, most productive economy. However, there may well be political forces in our society such that the closer you get to minimal government, the more some people get dissatisfied with their own situation and expect government to come in and forge solutions. If it doesn’t, you get social upheaval that might well change the system radically rather than in the small way that government does.[7][4]

Death penalty

Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful—like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it...

If some states and the federal government wish to continue carrying out the death penalty, they must turn away from this misguided path and return to more primitive—and foolproof—methods of execution. The guillotine is probably best but seems inconsistent with our national ethos. And the electric chair, hanging and the gas chamber are each subject to occasional mishaps. The firing squad strikes me as the most promising. Eight or ten large-caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage, causing instant death every time. There are plenty of people employed by the state who can pull the trigger and have the training to aim true...

Sure, firing squads can be messy, but if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood. [4]

—Alex Kozinski dissent in Wood v. Ryan [8][9]

Notable cases

Gay conversion therapy ban is constitutional (2013)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Pickup v. Brown, No. 12-17681)

Judge Kozinski was a member of a three judge panel that ruled on the constitutionality of a ban on gay conversion therapy in California. The other two members of the panel were Susan Graber, who wrote the opinion, and Morgan Christen. The suit, which was brought by David Pickup on behalf of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, was a challenge of a California law that banned gay conversion therapy. They claimed that the law was unconstitutional because it violated the therapist's First Amendment right of free speech. The panel ruled the law was constitutional because therapy and psychology are a state regulated practice, therefore speech, as treatment, is not constitutionally protected.[10]

MLB steriods case (2009)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
On September 2, 2009, Judge Kozinski ordered the preservation of evidence that proved 104 Major League Baseball players tested positive for steroids in 2003. The ruling came after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal agents incorrectly seized information on 104 players when the warrant authorized that only authorities could get information on 10 players.[11]

Ira Isaacs mistrial (2008)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
In June 2008, Judge Kozinski declared a mistrial and then recused himself from a case involving filmmaker Ira Isaacs. Isaacs was charged with breaking U.S. obscenity laws by distributing pornographic movies that depict extreme fetishes.

During the trial, it was discovered by the Associated Press that Judge Kozinski had sexually explicit material on his personal website. After the website was made public, the judge said that the videos were posted by his son in a statement. Furthermore, Kozinski blocked public access to the site.[12]

In 2009, Judge Kozinski was cleared of judicial misconduct after receiving an admonishment.[13]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
NA - new seat
Court of Federal Claims
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
NA - new seat
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by:

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