Thursday, June 12, 2008

Irony, Thy Name Is Kozinski

Actually, it might not be irony - except in an Alanis kinda way.

But you've read about this right? I think it's hilarious.

Of course my first thought upon reading this article was: When the hell did Vikram Amar become a UC Davis law professor? (Vikram Amar, of course, besides being a former UC Hastings law professor - I don't think he was visiting - is also known for being Akhil Amar's brother. Akhil Amar, of course, being best known for having been referenced in an episode of The West Wing.)

My second thought, though, was how much I wanted to know more about the technicalities of this obscenity-strewn website. Were its crazy images uploaded on the front page? Or is this more akin to the Schwarzenegger/Angelides dust-up from a few years back - when the Angelides campaign used a basic understanding of internet protocols to listen to audio records the governor carelessly left publicly available?

That pesky internet is causing trouble again. If the judge was using the site as a storage place, as he sorta describes it, then what import do we place on these specific images among many? In an article I read yesterday (too lazy to search for the link), Kozinski commented that he gets stuff like this sent to him all the time (stuff like less mainstream porn clips) and finds some of it funny. Think about it: a judge's job is to save stuff for later use - they call it "precedent" - so why wouldn't that tendency spill over into non-professional parts of life?

This would be a story even if Kozinski weren't about to hear an obscenity case - but it's a better story for the case.

Some are calling for recusal, of course, citing the legal chestnut that justice is concerned not just with actual conflicts but with the appearance of impartiality. Think of it this way, though: we are surely a culture basing its justice on a set of common morals. No really, even if you want to continue beating the "we are not a Christian country" dead horse - we kinda like Judeo-Christian values. And, bearing in mind that studies have shown (no, you won't get a cite for this either, but a professor told me once) that journalists tend to overcompensate for their personal political beliefs by being especially hard on similarly believing subjects, then, well, Kozinski might fall a bit heavier against the LA porn dude.

BUT, balance against that his known libertarian tendencies (he's a freakin' Reagan appointee, how odd is that?) and - presto! - he's righted himself against the riptide of conflicting values.

Of course, what should carry the day can be reduced to two words: life tenure.

I'd really hate for this to be grounds for impeachment. He's too funny to lose. Any jurist who ends an opion with advice that "the parties should chill" is alright with me.


Sisyphus said...

My understanding from reading multiple articles on it, including Judge Lessig's, is that it is a situation very much like Schwarzenegger's, where files were available to the public only if you knew the directory/root structure or could infer it. These weren't images posted on a web page.

After hearing that, this seemed like a non-issue to me. The images mostly seem like jokes anyway.

Anonymous said...

The real issue is that he posted "ripped" songs from his MP3 collection for his friends to "borrow". The LA Times buried that point at the end, I suspect because the RIAA knee-cappers are unlikely to go after a judge. But the Bar association should. Has he ever ruled on an RIAA case? I wonder . . .