The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has started a formal inquiry into allegations that former Chief Judge Alex Kozinski sexually harassed former law clerks and externs, Law.com reports. “In the past, when incidents of alleged misconduct have been reported in an accredited media publication, we have identified a complaint and initiated an inquiry,” wrote Chief Judge Sidney Thomas. Thomas initiated a complaint himself based on a Dec. 8 report in the Washington Post that that six former clerks or externs at the court accused Kozinski of asking them to view pornography or subjected them to inappropriate comments. More women have since come forward with similar allegations.
Thomas wrote that to “ensure confidence in the impartiality of any proceedings” he has asked Chief Justice John Roberts to transfer the complaint to another circuit, which could appoint a special committee investigate the complaint and make recommendations for potential discipline. A court spokesman confirmed that “one or more” of Kozinski’s current clerks had resigned. The Above the Law blog had reported three Kozinski clerks had decided to leave when the allegations surfaced. Earlier, the judge said he had treated all his employees “like family” and added, “I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.”