The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' special investigative committee investigating alleged misconduct by the 9th Circuit's Chief Judge Alex Kozinski has hired Robert C. Heim, head of Dechert's litigation department, to run the probe.
A Dechert spokesperson confirmed that a team from Dechert and Morgan Lewis has been hired to conduct the investigation and has assigned Heim to lead the operation.
Kozinski asked for an independent inquiry of the misconduct allegations back in June, and Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. assigned the job to the 3rd Circuit, under reform discipline rules.
Kozinski faces a discipline inquiry based on the discovery of sexually explicitly photos on his personal Web site, alex.kozinski.com. Those photos were password-protected but were discovered and publicized by Beverly Hills, Calif., lawyer Cyrus Sanai, who had an existing unrelated complaint against the judge.
Heim, based in Dechert's Philadelphia office, is a nationally known trial lawyer specializing in antitrust, securities, intellectual property and complex commercial litigation.
The federal discipline rules forbid disclosure of specifics of any existing investigation, so Dechert would not go beyond confirming Heim's position.
The firm also declined to discuss the number of cases it may have pending before the 9th Circuit or how it would deal with potential conflict.
Gordon Cooney, Morgan Lewis commercial litigator in Philadelphia, confirmed the firm has been hired to work on the Kozinski investigation and he will lead the firm's role in the inquiry.
He declined to elaborate or comment on potential for conflicts with cases pending in the 9th Circuit.