Judges Rule in Favor of Japanese Whalers – But Are They Impartial?

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2/27/13 A US federal court has ordered the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to cease interfering with the Japanese whaling at sea, making it possible for for Japanese whalers to continue legal action in the United States against the activists. The judges overturned the December 17, 2012 ruling by a district judge who had ruled that the piracy claim brought by the Japanese was unfounded. But are these judges unbiased?
Chief judge Alex Kozinski wrote that “you don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch” to be classified as pirates” and called the Sea Shepherd founder, Paul Watson, “eccentric” – yet he has admitted to posting pornographic material on his website.
The other two judges who ruled on this case are Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima (born 1934) “the third Asian American and first Japanese American in the history of the United States to be appointed to a United States Court of Appeals”, and conservation conservative Judge Milan Smith Jr., who dissented on the need to use a different circuit judge but concurred on all other points.
Absolutely shocking  is the vitriolic nature of chief judge Kozinski‘s written explanation of the ruling , in which he questions the impartiality of the district judge who dismissed Japan’s case last year). Kozinski writes:
“The district judge’s numerous, serious and obvious errors identified in our opinion raise doubts as to whether he will be perceived as impartial in presiding over this high-profile case. The appearance of justice would be served if the case were transferred to another district judge, drawn at random, and we so order in accordance with the standing orders of the Western District of Washington. The panel retains jurisdiction over any further appeals or writs involving this case”. (The 18 page document can be found here).
Bad luck, I thought at first, to draw such a conservative judge. Curious about the judge’s views I did a quick search and what I learned stopped me in my tracks:

June 12, 2008 “9th Circuit’s chief judge posted sexually explicit matter on his website”.

“One of the highest-ranking federal judges in the United States, who is currently presiding over an obscenity trial in Los Angeles, has maintained a publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos. Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledged in an interview with The Times that he had posted the materials, which included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Some of the material was inappropriate, he conceded, although he defended other sexually explicit content as “funny.”
Kozinski said he would delete some material from his site, including the photo depicting women as cows, which he said was “degrading … and just gross.” He also said he planned to get rid of a graphic step-by-step pictorial in which a woman is seen shaving her pubic hair.
…Kozinski said he must have accidentally uploaded those images to his server while intending to upload something else. “I would not keep those files intentionally,” he said. The judge pointed out that he never used appeals court computers to maintain the site.
The sexually explicit material on Kozinski’s site earlier this week was extensive, including images of masturbation, public sex and contortionist sex. There was a slide show striptease featuring a transsexual, and a folder that contained a series of photos of women’s crotches as seen through snug fitting clothing or underwear. There were also themes of defecation and urination, though they are not presented in a sexual context.”
The L A Times.
Kozinski, who was named chief judge of the 9th Circuit last year, is considered a judicial conservative on most issues. He was appointed to the federal bench by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1985.”

The fact that Kozinski’s interests are distasteful to most of us doesn’t mean that he is not a good judge on the nuances of the law, but it certainly means that he is in no place to impugn the character of another judge, nor to use words like “eccentric” in describing another individual.
His legal opinion on this case sounds angry, and well…opinionated.

This is what the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society seeks to protect.

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