Home / General / Why is legal academia still remaining (mostly) silent on Alex Kozinski?

Why is legal academia still remaining (mostly) silent on Alex Kozinski?


Update: The chief judge of the 9th circuit has initiated an investigation of Kozinski’s conduct.

One or more of Kozinski’s three current clerks has or have resigned.

Several days ago I noted that hardly any legal academics had said anything in public about the #MeToo scandal building around Alex Kozinski, the (in)famous appellate court judge, who has managed over the course of his career to make the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals a hostile work environment for women.

Since then, that silence has been broken to a still-much-too small extent:

(1) Nancy Rapoport blogged about her thoroughly creepy encounter, as a young law clerk, with (although she doesn’t mention it, the very married) Kozinski here.

(2) Dara Purvis has just published a NYT op-ed, pointing out the complicity of (especially) elite law schools in failing to protect their students from Kozinski and others like him, because of the institutional benefits to be gained from tossing their best and brightest into the prestige meat grinder.

(3) Joanna Grossman tweeted about a typically gross and narcissistic stunt on the renowned judge’s part. (Kozinski is basically Donald Trump with 50 IQ points tacked on).

(4) Although she is not in legal academia, Dahlia Lithwick’s confessional account of her failure to use her professional power to do anything about Kozinski’s predations is a must-read for everybody in this business we’ve chosen.

(5) Paul Horwitz alluded rather obliquely to the whole sordid business in a post about clerkship culture.

But it remains striking how the most highly-trafficked legal academic blogs, most notably the Volokh Conspiracy (run by a former Kozinski clerk) and Taxprof (which normally at least links to discussions of every notable story in legal academia), refuse to print a word about this affair.

I want to add a word here about my own interactions with Heidi Bond, whose courageous decision to out Kozinski was the key moment in his ongoing exposure. Soon after I started the blog Inside the Law School Scam, I got a very interesting message from Bond, who was then in her third year as a tenure-track law professor. We ended up having a number of email exchanges about law and legal academia, in the course of which she revealed she had real doubts about continuing on her current career path.

Several months later, I was startled to discover that Bond was that very day giving a talk at CU Law School, and that indeed her temporary office was literally across the hall from mine. I went over and introduced myself, since we had never met in person, and we had a (to me) fascinating discussion, in the course of which I discovered that she had already decided to quit being a law professor — a job for which she now expressed open contempt.

I naturally asked her what she planned to do instead. She waved me over to her side of the office’s desk, inviting me to take a look at something on her computer (I now seem to recall a feeling that I was going to be shown something at least vaguely illicit, but confess this well may be an after the fact confabulation, given subsequent revelations regarding her encounters with Kozinski). The computer screen featured the account information for the books published on a self-publishing platform by someone named Courtney Milan, which turned out to be Bond herself. The sales figures were, to my naive eyes, almost literally unbelievable. Bond, it turned out, was already a wildly successful writer of historical romances.

I remember actually bursting out in incredulous laughter, when I finally grasped how much money she was making self-publishing romance novels on the side, while professing law as her day job. (Among other things, I discovered that self-published authors keep something around 70% of the revenue from the books they sell, as opposed to the 8% to 15% collected by authors laboring for traditional publishers).

Anyway it was a memorable conversation. I next heard from Bond about a year later. She sent an email inquiring if she might avail herself of the publishing platform here at LGM to discuss an unspecified matter which she wanted to bring to public attention. I replied that I would be happy to help, and wondered what she had in mind. She never replied, and in a decision I now regret, I didn’t follow up (I should emphasize that I have no idea if she was referring to her interactions with Kozinski).

Given my various conversations with Bond, I’m certain beyond a reasonable doubt that Kozinski is flat-out lying when he claims he “doesn’t recall” forcing her to look at pornography on several occasions on his work computer. I’m also completely disgusted by Kozinski’s statement that Bond has written a romance novel featuring what he termed “very torrid sex,” as if that could have the slightest relevance to her claims.

One thing that needs to be made clear now is that anyone who, going forward, helps secure clerks for Kozinski, invites him to give speeches or participate in conferences etc., is objectively enabling the career of a serial sexual harasser, and should be called out for doing so. And, more than anyone else, we have Heidi Bond to thank for beginning to force the legal academy and perhaps even the federal judiciary to deal with this issue.

. . . Cassandra Burke Robertson has just called for impeachment proceedings against Kozinski.

. . . A correspondent points out that Volokh contributor Will Baude has brought attention to Heidi Bond’s narrative via Twitter, and suggests that Baude is in an awkward spot in regard to blogging about the matter, given that Kozinski is Eugene Volokh’s mentor. I personally think that under the circumstances he (Baude) should get over his squeamishness, if that’s what it is, but I agree that what he’s doing is better than nothing. (Also, props to Marty Lederman for his tweets in that thread, although it would be nice if he would post about this at Balkinization).

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