The first major judge caught up in the #MeToo phenomenon was Alex Kozinski, a well-known Ninth Circuit judge with strong libertarian leanings. The Washington Post published a story about alleged inappropriate behavior with women, and followed it up with another story that brought the total number of accusers to in excess of a dozen women. Now the judge is retiring:
Alex Kozinski, the powerful judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit who was facing a judicial investigation over allegations that he subjected 15 women to inappropriate sexual behavior, announced Monday that he would retire effective immediately.
In a statement provided by his lawyer, Kozinski apologized, saying that he “had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks alike” and that, “in doing so, I may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace.”
“It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent,” he said. “For this I sincerely apologize.”
The whole thing is very regrettable. The behavior alleged in the stories turned out to be fairly widespread and — if all the stories are to be credited — more severe than one might have imagined likely from this jurist. I still don’t see him as someone who was ever out to demean women. I see him more as a fellow with a very effusive personality combined with perhaps a lack of sensitivity as to how people might react to certain comments or behavior. I have met Kozinski on more than one occasion and always found him an engaging and an interesting person, and I think the federal judiciary will be the poorer without his intellect, wit, and direct and clear manner of expression. But I respect his decision to retire, under the circumstances, and wish him the best in the future — just as I also wish the best to his accusers.