Courtney Milan’s post about Alex Kozinski is a harrowing read, but an important one. In a Washington Post story about the allegations against him, Matt Zapotosky wrote, “After the story posted online, the judge told the Los Angeles Times, ‘I don’t remember ever showing pornographic material to my clerks’ and, ‘If this is all they are able to dredge up after 35 years, I am not too worried.’” Well, “this” is not all they are able to dredge up. I don’t know how many other stories there are out there, but here’s mine.
I clerked for the Hon. Joseph T. Sneed in 1985-86. It was one of the best jobs that I have ever had. Judge Sneed taught me about tight editing, critical thinking, and fair decision-making. He was a wonderful mentor to me and to countless other former law clerks.
Judge Kozinski sat up north from time to time, and at one point during my clerkship, he asked me to go for drinks with him and his clerks after work. I’m sociable (though not much of a drinker), so I agreed. When I showed up, none of his clerks were there. Just him.
Two things stand out in my memory. One was that he asked me, “What do single girls in San Francisco do for sex?” Another was, after I said I needed to head home because I had to absorb the news that my mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, he offered to “comfort” me. There was no reporting relationship between him and me, and I certainly never believed that my job with Judge Sneed was ever in jeopardy because of my interactions with Judge Kozinski. I just thought that the judge exhibited extremely poor taste.
But I have told countless female law students that I would never write them a letter of recommendation for a clerkship with him, and I have told them why. I didn’t want them ever to be at risk of being sexually harassed by him. I have told some of my female colleagues not to be alone with him, and for the same reason.
I doubt that he remembers our interaction that night. I do, and I view his statement to the Los Angeles Times as a challenge; hence, this post to add to the other voices.