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Report: Judge Kozinski ran e-mail list with dirty jokes

LOS ANGELES — A high-ranking federal judge who recused himself in an obscenity trial earlier this year because of sexually explicit images on his personal Web site also regularly e-mailed raunchy jokes to a group of legal luminaries, according to a report published Monday.

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski for years operated the “Easy Rider Gag List,” sending e-mails to new members warning that a host of tasteless humor was forthcoming. The Los Angeles Times obtained a sampling of jokes from the group sent between 2003 and 2008.

One e-mail contained a list of items under the heading “You may be a Taliban if ….” Among the items was “You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon ‘unclean.’ ”

The e-mails contained still more explicit jokes labeled “P&T” for “puerile and tasteless” including an obscene satiric letter sent by a man to his estranged wife, detailing his sexual exploits with the wife’s younger sister and others.

“There were a lot of vulgar jokes, very dirty jokes,” said Time magazine columnist Michael Kinsley, who was once on the list. “I was astonished that a judge was doing this.”

Kozinski sent the e-mails for years but stopped circulating them when the controversy over his Web site arose in June.

Kozinski recused himself and declared a mistrial in the summer obscenity trial of adult film producer Ira Isaacs after a Times story described mostly humorous but graphically sexual images on Kozinski’s publicly accessible Web site.

The judge’s attorney Mark Holscher said the joke list included federal judges, prominent attorneys and national journalists, but that the sampling obtained by the Times gave a distorted picture of what most of the gags were like.

Kozinski “used the gag list to keep in touch with friends – from my own computer, on my own time, at my home,” the judge said in a statement issued through Holscher. “Six months ago, I decided to find other ways to stay in touch, so as not to distract from the court I love and the judicial work to which I have devoted the last 20 years.”

National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor Jr. told the Times he was on the gag list for more than a decade.

“He’s not hung up on the need to be dignified,” Taylor said. “He enjoys life the way he did before he was a judge, and that may not comport with some peoples’ image of what judges should be like.”

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