Friday, October 1, 2010
Ninth Circuit Sanctions Attorney Who Filed Kozinski Complaint
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The Ninth Circuit Judicial Council yesterday sanctioned Beverly Hills attorney Cyrus Sanai, saying he had filed frivolous complaints against 19 federal judges.
The court ordered that any further misconduct complaints filed by Sanai, best known as the lawyer whose discovery of sexually explicit material on Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski’s personal website led to the judge being admonished, be submitted to the court for review prior to being filed.
Only after “a determination is made as to whether it merits further review” will the filing of a complaint by Sanai be permitted, the order provides. The council also publicly reprimanded Sanai and ordered that a copy of its order be served on the State Bar of California for consideration of further discipline.
Kozinski, who as chief judge chairs the council, did not participate in the matter. The council members who joined in the order were Ninth Circuit Judges Sidney R. Thomas, M. Margaret McKeown, Ronald M. Gould and Johnnie B. Rawlinson; Ninth Circuit Senior Judge Procter Hug Jr.; Chief U.S. District Judges Audrey B. Collins of the Central District of California, Irma E. Gonzalez of the Southern District of California, and Roger L. Hunt of the District of Nevada; and Senior U.S. District Judges Terry J. Hatter Jr. of the Central District of California and Robert H. Whaley of the Eastern District of Washington.
The matter was before the council on Sanai’s petition for review of a Nov. 25, 2009 order by Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt, dismissing his complaints against the judges, a petition for which the council found “no basis.” The judges were not identified in the order, but Reinhardt, as the court’s longest serving active judge, would by law only have reviewed the complaint if the chief judge was a subject of the complaints.
The council rejected Sanai’s argument that his complaint should not have been reviewed by Reinhardt, but sent instead to the Third Circuit Judicial Council, which handled his original complaint against Kozinski. That complaint resulted in the judge being admonished last year for being “careless” and “judicially imprudent” in possessing the material and not safeguarding his files, and failing to fully correct the problem when it was discovered.
The council found, however, that the judge did not intend to make the explicit material publicly available, acknowledged his carelessness, apologized for placing the judiciary in a poor public light, and taken the material offline.
In concluding that it was unnecessary to send the newest Sanai filing to their Third Circuit counterparts, the Ninth Circuit council said the claims “were not sufficiently related” to the earlier complaint. The council also said it did not have jurisdiction to consider Sanai’s claim that Reinhardt should have recused himself, and that there was in any event no showing of bias on Reinhardt’s part.
“An attorney filing a frivolous misconduct complaint diminishes the effectiveness of our system of justice, and also may have an adverse effect on the random assignment of judges who may feel compelled to recuse even in light of unfounded allegations,” the council wrote. “We conclude that both a public reprimand and a pre-filing order are appropriate sanctions for this abuse of the misconduct complaint procedure.”
Sanai told the MetNews he is being retaliated against for his efforts to call attention to, and to secure appropriate remedies for, judicial misconduct in matters involving Kozinski, Judge Manuel Real of the Central District of California, and Judge Thomas Zilly of the Western District of Washington, who heard a case in which Sanai and other family members were suing his father for improper use of funds.
Zilly sanctioned Sanai in that case for conduct the judge found “outrageous, disrespectful, and in bad faith” Sanai yesterday described Zilly as “the Manuel Real of Washington state” and said the judge tends to make up facts to support biased conclusions.
The judges whom he complained about, he said, “acted from improper motive” in rejecting his prior complaints in order to protect their colleagues.
Sanai said the prefiling order was of no concern to him because “nobody in his right mind will ever file a judicial misconduct complaint in Ninth Circuit.” Such a filing would be pointlessbecause the council will never impose sanctions against a judge, he said, explaining that he only submitted his latest filings because he expected a transfer to the Third Circuit.
The State Bar referral, he said, “is a sign of the arrogance of the Ninth Circuit,” adding that if it goes to a hearing, he is prepared to “call the relevant Ninth Circuit judges to explain why I’m being singled out.”
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company