Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Publishes Article About Kozinski’s Joke E-Mail List

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Crime,Dog Trainer,General,Kozinski — Patterico @ 2:33 am

At the L.A. Times, Scott Glover today publishes a story titled Federal judge e-mailed jokes to ‘gag list’:

When new members were welcomed to an e-mail group called the Easy Rider Gag List, they were warned that they would soon be receiving a steady diet of tasteless humor.

The warning came from the Easy Rider himself: Alex Kozinski, one of the highest ranking and most intellectually respected federal judges.

On the gag list, Kozinski periodically distributed jokes to a group of friends and associates, including his law clerks, colleagues on the federal bench, prominent attorneys and journalists. The jokes he sent ranged from silly to politically oriented to raunchy.

The article strikes me as a stretch. Everyone knows people who send around silly and tasteless jokes. And, by now, everyone who followed the previous controversy knows that Kozinski has a sense of humor that can, at times, veer into the silly and tasteless.

In light of that known fact, what is the news value of this story?

But if we’re determined to have some kind of public discussion about this judge’s e-mailed jokes, then — as with the material on Judge Kozinski’s server/website, which Glover described in a way that removed much of the humorous context — I think it’s best for the general public to see the jokes themselves.


The article says: “The Times was given 13 jokes by three sources that were circulated on the gag list between 2003 and 2008.” We are not told who the sources are, or whether the jokes are representative, but we are given a couple of examples of the types of jokes that were sent around:

One joke sent last spring poked fun at the Taliban, stating, “You may be a Taliban if . . .” any of the following 12 statements are true. Among the statements: “You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes” and “You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon ‘unclean.’ “

Well, on this blog we’re not constrained by space limitations, so let’s get the whole list out there. This is from Neal Boortz’s site:


1. You refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral objection to beer.

2. You own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket launcher, but you can’t afford shoes.

3. You have more wives than teeth.

4. You wipe your butt with your bare left hand, but consider bacon “unclean.”

5. You think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide.

6. You can’t think of anyone you HAVEN’T declared Jihad against.

7. You consider television dangerous, but routinely carry explosives in your clothing.

8. You were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses other than setting off roadside bombs.

9. You’ve ever uttered the phrase, “I love what you’ve done with your cave.”

10. You have nothing against women and think every man should own at least one.

11. You bathe at least monthly whether necessary or not.

12. You’ve ever had a crush on your neighbor’s goat.

I have little doubt that plenty of people would find at least some of that to be humorous.


The L.A. Times article continues:

Other jokes, labeled “P&T” in the subject heading to indicate they were “puerile and tasteless,” were cruder and more sexually explicit and used language that defies quotation in a general circulation newspaper.

The most graphic joke was set up as a three-page letter ostensibly written by a man to his estranged wife. The man sarcastically tells his wife that he still loves and misses her while at the same time detailing his recent sexual escapades with a young student, a single mother and his wife’s younger sister. The single mom, the man says, acts like “a real woman . . . [who is] not hung up about God and her career and whether the kids can hear us.”

That rather bloodless description doesn’t really convey the tone of the letter, which you can read in its entirety here. The title is “How To Get Your Ex Back” and begins with the following:

Dear JRW,

I know the counselor said we shouldn’t contact each other during our “cooling off” period, but I couldn’t wait anymore. The day you left, I swore I’d never talk to you again. But that was just the wounded little boy in me talking. Still, I never wanted to be the first one to make contact. In my fantasies, it was always you who would come crawling back to me. I guess my pride needed that.

But now I see that my pride’s cost me a lot of things. I’m tired of pretending I don’t miss you. I don’t care about looking bad anymore. I don’t care who makes the first move as long as one of us does. Maybe it’s time we let our hearts speak as loudly as our hurt. And this is what my heart says… “There’s no one like you, Terri.” I look for you in the eyes and breasts of every woman I see, but they’re not you. They’re not even close.

Two weeks ago, I met this girl at the Rainbow Room and brought her home with me. I don’t say this to hurt you, but just to illustrate the depth of my desperation. She was young, Terri, maybe 19, with one of those perfect bodies that only youth and maybe a childhood spent ice skating can give you. I mean, just a perfect body. Tits you wouldn’t believe and an ass like a tortoise shell. Every man’s dream right? But as I sat on the couch being blown by this coed, I thought, look at the stuff we’ve made important in our lives.

It’s all so surface. What does a perfect body mean? Does it make her better in bed? Well, in this case, yes. But you see what I’m getting at. Does it make her a better person? Does she have a better heart than my moderately attractive Terri? I doubt it. And I’d never really thought of that before. I don’t know, maybe I’m just growing up a little. Later, after I’d tossed her about a quart of throat yogurt, I found myself thinking, “Why do I feel so drained and empty?” It wasn’t just her flawless technique or her slutty, shameless hunger, but something else. Some niggling feeling of loss. Why did it feel so incomplete? And then it hit me. It didn’t feel the same because you weren’t there, Terri, to watch. Do you know what I mean? Nothing feels the same without you, baby.

And it goes on like that. Feel free to read it all at the link. If this is the most graphic joke Kozinski ever sent around, then The Times doesn’t have much.

To some, jokes like this are funny. To others, they’re annoying and tasteless. But the idea that someone might circulate a joke like that to friends of his, who are willing recipients of the e-mails . . . it’s just not something that merits coverage in a newspaper, it seems to me. [See the UPDATE below for evidence that the e-mails were sent only to willing recipients.]


Worse, this isn’t even really news. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reported on the e-mail gag list back in June of this year, in a post that gave a couple more examples of the types of jokes Kozinski sent around to friends:

One joke tells of the golfer who killed his wife by hitting a tee shot that strikes her in the temple. Days later, a coroner calls and tells the golfer that the coroner also discovered a bruise on the wife’s hip. “Do you know anything about this?” the coroner asks. “Yes,” the golfer says, “that would have been my mulligan.”

The Kozinski jokes border on R-rated at times, like the one about the woman who confesses to her priest that “my boyfriend made mad, passionate love to me seven times.” The priest tells the woman to squeeze 7 lemons into a glass and drink it down. “Will this cleanse me of my sins?” she asks. “No,” the priest says, “but it will wipe that grin off your face.”

The jokes suggest that Kozinsk[i] is both ribald and unusually free spirited for someone of his stature. Sure, we all have uncles who send around this kind of stuff, but the chief judge of the 9th Circuit? Maybe that’s inappropriate behavior, or maybe it’s refreshingly candid behavior from the normally cloaked federal judiciary.


From the L.A. Times article, it appears that most of the people on the list hewed closer to the latter view. Hardly anyone who received the jokes appears to have been offended, although you get the feeling that one or two people sort of rolled their eyes and started deleting the e-mails without even reading them. The article notes that each e-mail “contained warnings about its potentially offensive content,” and according to Kozinski’s attorney, “[a]nyone who asked to be taken off the list was removed immediately.”

Certainly Kozinski has developed a reputation as someone different from your average judge. I have said that I felt it was legitimate for The Times to report that the Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit was (even unwittingly) putting sexually explicit material on a server that was accessible by the public. Kozinski has been accused of other conduct that merits news coverage, including the recent resurrection of an old accusation that he disabled security software for the computer system serving three federal circuit courts.

But writing a newspaper story about his private joke e-mail list? Come on. Let us know when you have a real story to report.

UPDATE: Proof that the list was consensual comes in this post, which reproduces the message Kozinski would send as the first message to anyone on the list:

From: The Easy Rider

I have added your name to the prestigious EZ RIDER GAG LIST. You are now a member of an elite corps of trend-setters and opinion-makers, selected on the basis of our rigorous criteria (mainly the willingness to receive large quantities of puerile and tasteless humor).

You should start getting current distributions in the next couple of days. …

You will note that some of the gags are marked “(P&T)” at the end of the “Subject” line. This stands for Puerile and Tasteless – the kind of humor Mrs. Garibaldi used to pull your ears for when she found it scribbled in your third-grade notebook. Feel free to pass on the gags I send you, but if they are marked “(P&T)” please PULL MY NAME OFF; I do not want to be sending P&T humor to non-consenting parties.

Hope you enjoy.

Ciao. AK

Emphasis is mine. Clearly, Kozinski did not want to send this humor to anyone who didn’t consent. So the L.A. Times has published an old story, about humorous jokes sent to consenting adults. Again, how is this a story?

UPDATE x2: An anonymous correspondent sends along another example of a link that Kozinski sent around to the gag list, here.

48 Responses to “L.A. Times Publishes Article About Kozinski’s Joke E-Mail List”

  1. I can’t work up any outrage over any of this. The best part is I have a new email to send to all my friends, family and co-workers – “You may be a Taliban if…” How did I ever miss this one?? As a Proud Infidel I find these pretty funny. The LAT obviously is trying to portray Kozinski as a rabid bigot. The Thought Police strike again.

    Peg C. (48175e)

  2. Reading your post which expands on the LAT smear, leaves me thinking, a federal judge who has a sense of humor. Who knew there was one?

    Dale (87cad1)

  3. While at first glance this looks a bit stale, I think there are three interesting points about this piece.

    The first is the new fact that Judge Kozinski was unilaterally adding people like Mike Kinsley to the email list. That kind of blows the “friends and family” argument to bits. If Judge Kozinski had not been spamming his joke list outside his private circle, this article probably should not have been written, but it is clear that he did feel the need to advertise his sensibility outside his personal circle of friends. That makes it news, and the revelation that Kozinski was including people outside his friends and family is new information.

    The second is that Judge Kozinski’s mouthpiece claims that Judge Kozinski did this all himself. He can’t blame his sons or clerks for adding people like Kinsley to the distribution list.

    The third point is that utilizing USC’s email service to distribute this stuff violates the terms of use of the account–all private universities restrict their system accounts from being used for offensive, sexist and otherwise inappropriate uses, and Judge Kozinski’s emails easily qualify as a violation. If the US Attorney has any integrity, he will be prosecuting Judge Kozinski a la Lori Drew.

    Cyrus Sanai (aa741d)

  4. [Kozinski’s] former clerk said he didn’t believe the judge would intentionally offend anyone. But he said his former boss could be “tone deaf” when it came to gauging whether something he found funny would be appropriate to share with others, including his clerks.

    “He has no filter,” the ex-clerk said. “He can’t imagine that anyone thinks there’s something wrong with this behavior.”

    He could be talking about me. Especially after I’ve had a couple drinks and even more so, lately, if the subject is Obama and I’m talking to one of his catechumens.

    nk (5a0e72)

  5. The third point is that utilizing USC’s email service to distribute this stuff violates the terms of use of the account…

    I’m gonna bet you could get 90% of the students, faculty, and staff on the same violation.

    Seriously, dude, get over it. He’s just not that into you.

    Rob Crawford (04f50f)

  6. “The third point is that utilizing USC’s email service to distribute this stuff violates the terms of use of the account–all private universities restrict their system accounts from being used for offensive, sexist and otherwise inappropriate uses, and Judge Kozinski’s emails easily qualify as a violation. If the US Attorney has any integrity, he will be prosecuting Judge Kozinski a la Lori Drew.”

    Big hint here!!!!!

    Cue up another Cyrus Sanai ethics complaint.

    Can you spell vendetta? Yes you can.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  7. all private universities restrict their system accounts from being used for offensive, sexist and otherwise inappropriate uses

    And it’s sooooo easy to make a criminal case from conduct which involves First Amendment speech and associatonal rights.

    nk (5a0e72)

  8. all private universities restrict their system accounts from being used for offensive, sexist and otherwise inappropriate uses

    Yeah, that’s grounds for getting your email account deleted by a sysadmin, not being thrown in jail.

    I'm Geekier (31e7c5)

  9. Comment by Cyrus Sanai — 12/8/2008 @ 4:58 am

    What a joke you are!

    h2u (4a7c7f)

  10. Did Cyrus ever come back to defend his accusations of Patterico being wrong on DNA statistics on that Top 100 Law Blogs post or did he dodge the issue again?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  11. Did I see Sanai use the word “integrity” ?

    SPQR (72771e)

  12. daleyrocks,

    I don’t believe Cyrus returned to the thread, despite my invitation to fully debate who got it wrong.

    Patterico (2f822f)

  13. Other judges want to release a thousand violent felons onto the streets because they might have to wait in line for an MRI, and that isn’t considered offensive by the Times. One might almost think there was an agenda here. Is there some pressing need to push the 9th Circuit to the left?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  14. What happened to the porno case Kozinski recused himself from? If it’s barred because of double jeopardy, I would want him disciplined for that.

    nk (5a0e72)

  15. A man who enjoys distributing such jokes lacks judicial temperament, period, and gets what he deserves when his reputation is tarnished by his own choices.

    I don’t separate a man’s private habits from his character. And character counts in some professions. The judiciary is one of those professions.

    SarahW (a6e80b)

  16. Humor or a lack of it is now “judicial temperament”, Sarah?

    I find that assertion of yours quite funny.

    SPQR (72771e)

  17. “A man who enjoys distributing such jokes lacks judicial temperament”

    SarahW – How so? By demonstrating he is human? ‘Splain that please. Has he done something illegal or merely something which was outrageously misharacterized by the LA Times in June?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  18. There is more than a little bit of evidence that Kozinski is a flake, SPQR. SarahW is not necessarily off the mark.

    nk (5a0e72)

  19. nk, I’ve met Judge Kozinski on several occasions and while he’s a character and a half, I don’t think he’s as much of a “flake” as his accusers.

    SPQR (72771e)

  20. “SarahW is not necessarily off the mark.”

    nk – So the women I know who share e-mail jikes about men only think about sex and dick sizes presumably do not have any judicial temperament either. Shit, who can we get to serve?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  21. There is more than a little bit of evidence that Kozinski is a flake, SPQR.

    Does he do his job? Does he rule based on the law or based on his whim?

    Rob Crawford (04f50f)

  22. Rob, worse. He writes intelligent opinions.

    SPQR (72771e)

  23. I thought granting a mistrial in the porno case was way off the wall. Maybe it’s different on the Left Coast, but my experience is that a judge walks over to his supervising judge’s chambers and says, “I can’t hear this case. Can you take over for me and I’ll take one of yours?” There might be a short continuance, and there might be a speedy trial issue (a joke in the federal system), but no mistrial after testimony has been taken, which is a nuclear issue.

    nk (5a0e72)

  24. “There might be a short continuance, and there might be a speedy trial issue (a joke in the federal system), but no mistrial after testimony has been taken, which is a nuclear issue.”

    nk – I thought the jury had merely been seated before the mistrial had been declared, but my timing could be off.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  25. Rob, worse. He writes intelligent opinions.

    Oh, well, then — can’t have that in the 9th Circus!

    Rob Crawford (04f50f)

  26. daleyrocks #24,

    According to Patterico only opening statements. (The AP link no longer works.) Also, it seems the case is still alive although double jeopardy is grounds for an interlocutory appeal. It will be heard by the 9th Circuit.

    But he still shouldnadunnit.

    nk (5a0e72)

  27. I can’t forgive him for that women-as-cows picture.
    Perhaps it didn’t need to be made public, but after I saw that he had circulated that particular picture, I can’t respect him.

    MayBee (d82a30)

  28. I saw that too, MayBee. Do you think “flake” is too strong a word?

    nk (5a0e72)

  29. I saw that too, MayBee. Do you think “flake” is too strong a word?

    I think “flake” is too nice a word.

    MayBee (d82a30)

  30. The LAT is offically a bankrupt now, though it’s been intellectually bankrupt for years. They’ll probably be glad to publish entire jokes going forward, as well as posting embarassing tapes of the President at every opportunity.

    MTF (17058c)

  31. […] Patterico’s Pontifications, where you can find examples of the jokes Kozinski […]

    ‘He’s Not Hung Up on the Need to Be Dignified’ | Slave Uprising Wristbands (ba6a39)

  32. […] readers’ dudgeon about the judge’s private emailing of tasteless jokes to friends. Patterico and Althouse take somewhat different views of the supposed offense. The West Coast newspaper, […]

    Judge Kozinski’s email joke list (1562ea)

  33. #12,

    No I did not return to it at the time because I had to work.

    I’d actually like to have that debate, because the partial DNA match question is very interesting. However, the more I looked at the website containing the Arizona data that I was using, the more problems I saw in doing an intelligible debate that would lead somewhere. In particular, the more I consider the lack of randomness is DNA databases, the more sceptical I have become about application of standard random chance analysis (i.e. that the chances of this Y match arising out of database D is 1 in X) absent a comparison of actual Monte Carlo runs on a real DNA database as compared to a true random sampling of DNA. Since no one has bothered to do that, to my knowedge, we don’t really know how the ethnic and sex based skewing of the database affects things.

    That being said, I am certain that the identifying vs. corroborative distinction is important, but is ignored in this area, even though in other areas of statistics it is well recognized. That’s because of the disconnect between statistics (where the cost of acquiring information is assumed to be zero) with real life tree analysis (where excluding alternatives costs money).

    The connection between real decision tree analysis and due process is coming up later this term in the Supreme Court on the District Attorney Office case, where the issue of the right to DNA testing is before the Supreme Court.

    The interesting point about that case is that less fallible one believes that DNA testing is, the stronger the due process argument to force the state to conduct the tests. The more concern one has with reliability of degraded samples, the weaker the due process argument.

    I’d be interested in reading a post by Patterico on whether the thinks the Ninth Circuit got the issue right or wrong.

    Cyrus Sanai (aa741d)

  34. If the US Attorney has any integrity, he will be prosecuting Judge Kozinski a la Lori Drew.

    This is a joke, right?

    JD (059bab)

  35. I see the LA Slimes is going down in a blaze of…partisan stupidity.

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  36. Comment by Patricia — 12/8/2008 @ 6:26 pm

    If PS is a contagious disease, can we get Cyrus quarantined along with the Dog Trainer?

    Another Drew (e451ab)

  37. You’d think in light of that little bankruptcy issue the LAT is facing, they would try harder to report on issues that seriously mattered. I read the entire article and came away thinking it was just another attempt to stir the pot without any real purpose. Just stirring the pot because quality eludes them.

    btw, I tend to agree with MayBee #27 – I can’t forgive him for that women-as-cows picture.

    Dana (79a78b)

  38. He’s even mentioned it in discussions:

    ERIC GOLDMAN: My wife has discovered eBay, so I actually believe she’s surpassed my feedback rating. Do you do anything else? Do you do communications with friends, family, colleagues?

    JUDGE ALEX KOZINSKI: I have a gag list. I send out gags.

    ERIC GOLDMAN: Okay. Gags, as in funny jokes or gags as in like gag orders that you can issue.

    JUDGE ALEX KOZINSKI: Funny, dirty jokes.

    ERIC GOLDMAN: I think we’ll avoid asking you to recount them here; how about that?

    JUDGE ALEX KOZINSKI: You are the questioner. Far be it for me to volunteer an answer that I haven’t
    been posed. …

    Seth Finkelstein (8c4429)

  39. lol Cyrus.

    What a nutcase. Never ceasing. Always obsessed. I guess if somehow Kozinski were ousted, he’d just move on to being obsessed with abusing another judge. This is, after all, all he’s ever going to be remembered for…. Revealing private facts about a major privacy rights activist and respected legal figure.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  40. ok ok … most of what Cyrus was claiming is now known to have been radically exaggerated, so I guess I should say he revealed facts and fantasies. Obviously, Cyrus’s twisted interpretation of most of that BS says even more about his mind.

    And he’s a lawyer who thinks Lori Drew’s prosecution was a great idea and should be expanded to even more ‘crimes’. Can you imagine working with this guy? I guess we now know why the oil industry is so clumsy.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  41. […] was played by a reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper, on his employer, its shareholders, and on the residents of his city: A reporter walks into a newsroom.  He gets a call from a lawyer who’s been disciplined as a […]

    Los Angeles Times continues journalistic jihad against joking Judge Alex Kozinski | Popehat (895595)

  42. I can’t believe you worry about things like this.
    Your life must be so small

    Phil (11002c)

  43. “I can’t believe you worry about things like this.
    Your life must be so small”

    Phil – Was your comment intended for the LA Times reporter who wrote the story?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  44. Judge K’s e-mail Gag List is amazingly similar to AnnTM’s TTR Poodle #uckers on ezboard. Kinda of an ex parte sort of party among the judiciary based on a loose subscriber list. If Judge K had not breached the Federal Courts Computer fireall in 2001, I highly doubt such such board would have been available to the working judiciary and other colleagues outside the Courthouse walls.

    Of course, without such an invention, Judge K and some of his former law clerks, blog hosts, and their blog patrons such as towanda and AnnTM never would have discovered my autistic savant parody gets more of a rise and a bigger audience than his — it profitable helped fund their TTR Poodle #uckers group after they purloined one of my copyrighted parodies. No NT can compete in the subject of humor with a savant autistic — different brain wiring creates certain inherent advantages. Just how it is.

    MKDP (ccf25c)

  45. corr: “fireall” = firewall
    WebSENSE, both a firewall and filter
    “fireall,” what happens to those whose parody doesn’t get a rise out of Cyrus Sanai.

    MKDP (ccf25c)

  46. I can’t believe this degenerate pervert Kazinski is still on the bench after dropping the WebSense firewall September 10, 2001. How convenient.

    Since dropping the WebSense firewall, you wacko libertarians employed as law clerks for various federal circuit judges have communicated ex-parte among yourselves on court computers, throwing cases to further your waterboarding sick-o agendas (in-between cruising internet porn all day).

    I hope Obama stacks the U.S. Supreme Court to 15 judges to flush you losers out once and for all.

    David F. Petrano Esq. (600eb5)

  47. BTW, I’m not MKDP

    David F. Petrano Esq. (600eb5)

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