LOS ANGELES—Way back in March of 2008, the news media were startled and amused when then-Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski decided that he would replace U.S. District Judge George H. King and would himself preside over the obscenity trial of independent adult video producer Ira Isaacs. But whatever shock or amusement the media may have felt at that development was overshadowed when, after two days of trial, Judge Kozinski suspended the proceedings and recused himself from anything further to do with the case after the Los Angeles Times reported that Kozinski maintained a personal website chock full of sexually oriented material.
And who was the main source for the Times’ story? Attorney Cyrus Sanai, who reportedly had had a long-standing grudge against Kozinski—and who’s now claiming in a new lawsuit that because of his revelations about Kozinski, including the claim that Kozinski “hazed” clerks by displaying porn and committing other types of misconduct, he’d been retaliated against—and that the Ninth Circuit’s Judicial Council (JC), a defendant in the new lawsuit along with Kozinski and individual current and past judges on the Council, knew all about the Sanai-bashing but did nothing.
In the suit, Sanai claims that he was barred from participation in the several attempts that were made to call Kozinski to account for his actions, including a misconduct hearing that the Supreme Court ordered to take place before the Third Circuit’s Judicial Council, which refused to consider Sanai’s own complaints during its proceedings.
“With Kozinski and the JC having successfully quashed any investigation into Kozinski’s accessing pornography to torment his clerks, Kozinski and the JC decided to use the full power and force of the prestige of their position to disbar Sanai,” Sanai’s complaint alleges. “Sanai’s misconduct complaints were assigned to Kozinski’s best friend on the Court, and fellow pornography aficionado, Stephen Reinhardt. Judge Reinhardt found that claims against Kozinski were fully disposed of by the Third Circuit, and that the other claims which related to Kozinski’s misconduct were merits related, even though the allegations explicitly demonstrated that they were not. Reinhardt stated that sanctions should be imposed on Sanai for filing a completely truthful and valid misconduct complaint… The 2010 JC Defendants issued a published censure of Sanai as retaliation for filing his valid misconduct complaint and instructed that it be put to the California Bar Association.”
Sanai makes several other charges, many having to do with Kozinski’s alleged manipulation of the system to give him control over the proceedings against Sanai.
“Kozinski’s role as a litigator is a threat to due process,” Sanai charges. “Kozinski is impervious to any kind of restriction or restraint in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or the District Courts. He has the power to contact judges ex parte and to violate other rules and restrictions with impunity, because the JC and Court of Appeals has demonstrated it will not rein him in.”
Possibly of interest: Sanai is seeking $10,000,000 for “emotional injury, reputational injury, lost income, and expenses, and an unknown amount of punitive damages.”
However, the suit, which was filed in December of 2019, now faces a Motion to Dismiss by the defendants, who claim, among other defenses, that since the alleged incidents described in the complaint happened more than a decade ago, his claims were time-barred, and also that the suit was barred by judicial and quasi-judicial immunity and that federal courts, it was argued, have no jurisdiction to review decisions by the Judicial Council.
“Sound doctrines of sovereign, judicial, and quasi-judicial immunity preclude Plaintiff from proceeding with those claims in this Court,” the Motion argues. “And in any event, Congress expressly foreclosed judicial review of any orders or determinations by a judicial council, which is precisely what Plaintiff asks of this Court. Even were the merits of Plaintiff’s claims subject to review, they are subject to summary dismissal. Plaintiff should not be permitted to entangle yet another judicial forum in whatever quest he is pursuing.”
In addition, the Motion to Dismiss identifies several other reasons why the suit should be dismissed, including “failure to state a claim”; “lack of jurisdiction for the district court to hear the claim”; “sovereign immunity”; “judicial immunity” or in the case of two defendants “quasi-judicial immunity”; and the ultimate argument that in any case, the complaints are “time barred by 28 U.S.C. §2401(a), which requires that a complaint be filed ‘within six years after the right of action first accrues.'”
All of that, plus the fact that most of the defendants are being represented by attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice, suggest that Sanai, who’s representing himself, will have a long legal struggle to make his case, even if it survives the current Motion.
Pictured: Then-Judge Alex Kozinski
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