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Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, facing a discipline inquiry over discovery he had sexually explicit photographs on a personal Web site, has scrubbed his public appearances for the circuit conference this week in Sun Valley, Idaho. Kozinski is attending the four-day conference but plans to forego his first opportunity to preside over the gathering since becoming chief judge. “I don’t do state of the union-type speeches,” Kozinski said Friday, citing a trivia contest, in lieu of a speech, that he conducted at a San Francisco Federal Bar Association meeting two months ago. “I’ll be there [at the conference] and I’ll preside at court meetings, and I may take the stage a few times,” he said, adding he remains undecided. Cathy Catterson, circuit executive, said that Kozinski will chair the official circuit judges’ meeting, which is closed to the public. It will be held during the conference. Kozinski said he never intended to give the traditional state of the 9th Circuit speech, which is not in keeping with his more off-the-cuff style. Instead, he planned to offer a question and answer jam session Wednesday for the hundreds of lawyers and judges attending. That has been scrapped as well, according to Catterson. Adding to the prickly situation, Beverly Hills attorney Cyrus Sanai, a Kozinski critic and the one who accessed and leaked the Kozinski Web site, obtained press credentials from the LA Weekly to cover the event. The circuit agreed to allow Sanai to attend as a reporter, for the LA Weekly, part of an alternative newspaper chain. The circuit gave him press credentials but kept a close watch on him during Monday’s opening session. Lawyers may attend only by invitation of the circuit but it is open to media coverage. The conference traditionally does not hold press briefings and the only opportunity to ask questions would be in the routine, public question and answer sessions at the end of each panel presentation. Sanai said, “I’m on my best behavior. They made it clear that if I interrupt or try to ask questions I can be bodily removed.” There are plenty of U.S. Marshals, who act as security for all circuit conferences, to make good on the promise. Sanai said the LA Weekly is not interested in a story about him, so he’ll be focusing on other aspects of the conference, which concludes Thursday. The June 11 exposure of the Web site, which Kozinski has indicated was for private storage and that he did not know images could be seen by the public, came as he presided over the obscenity trial in Los Angeles of Ira Isaacs, a filmmaker accused of distributing sexual-fetish videos. Kozinski quickly recused himself from the case and a mistrial was declared because a jury had already been seated. Kozinski called for an inquiry into his own potential misconduct and the Web site was taken down. Chief Justice John Roberts assigned the probe to the 3rd Circuit, where it is currently pending. That makes it touchy for Kozinski to hold Wednesday’s scheduled question and answer session, which will be on-the-record and include news reporters. As for all the attention the Web site content generated, Kozinski said, “I feel invaded. I don’t like to hide things but now I have to think about passwords and, it just isn’t my way of doing things. I don’t like to have U.S. Marshals following me around,” he said. Marshals provide federal judicial security. “I revel in my anonymity. The whole thing is unsettling,” he said. Kozinski was more focused on the administrative issues confronting the circuit, from high numbers of prison petitions in central California, getting Congress to provide funds for sorely needed courthouse construction and the crush of immigration case petitions, which are again on the rise. Kozinski’s predicament may not be all the behind-the-scenes tension at the conference. Also attending will be U.S. District Judge Manuel Real of Los Angeles, who has come in for circuit discipline and a potential impeachment hearing over his handling of cases. On July 22, a circuit panel that included Kozinski removed Real’s jurisdiction over a significant class action case and ordered the case reassigned. And the program includes as a panelist the controversial Boalt Hall law professor John Yoo, who has formerly a lawyer in the President’s Office of Legal Counsel. Yoo wrote a now infamous opinion allowing the government to use coercive interrogation techniques that critics have said could constitute torture. He will participate in a panel titled: “Executive Power: Does the President Have to Obey the Law?” along with Kenneth Starr, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law and the special prosecutor who investigated President Bill Clinton. Judge Richard Clifton, of Honolulu, who is the organizer of this year’s program, will take over more of the hosting duties.

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