US judge steps down after accusations of sexual misconduct (Associated Press)
The judge is 67-year-old Alex Kozinski, who was formerly the chief judge for the Ninth Circuit (California, Arizona, and the West Coast).
He was a refugee from Romanian communism and the child of Holocaust survivors.
Until these credible allegations by some 15 women, he was known mainly for his brilliance, hard work, lucid writing, and significant opinions.
The incidents reported in the Washington Post story (link here) are all troubling.
What struck me most, aside from the sheer number of accusations, is that at least one of the people assaulted became a federal judge herself. Although she told people about the incident contemporaneously, she did not report it to other authorities.
I can certainly understand why women who might have future cases before the judge would not report it. But it is striking that others in more secure situations did not. What about other judges on the Ninth Circuit? Did they know or suspect?
For those who did know, why did they remain silent? Perhaps it was because of social pressures at the time, or because they didn’t want to become involved, or because they thought no one would take it seriously, or other reasons.
Of course, the accused needs to be given a fair hearing, a chance to rebut any false or misleading accusations. That is essential to our basic understanding of fairness and justice.
In the Kozinski case, he has not disputed the basic accusations. Instead, he stepped down.
Now we can ask why no one, including those in powerful, secure positions, said or did anything . . . for years.
Their silence left others vulnerable.