Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Judge's Wife says Charges Against Husband are Lies


A federal appeals court judge under scrutiny for sexually explicit videos and photos posted on a personal Web site is the victim of distortions and "outright lies" published by the Los Angeles Times, his wife charged Monday.

Marcy Jane Tiffany, wife of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, described some of the material stored on the home computer as raunchy and juvenile. Only about a half-dozen files among hundreds had a "sexual aspect," but they were not pornography, she said.

"Alex is not into porn - he is into funny - and sometimes funny has a sexual character," Tiffany wrote in a nearly 2,000-word defense of her husband, posted on a Web site called
In a brief telephone interview, Tiffany confirmed that she wrote the statement and declined further comment, except to quote the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

The newspaper's California editor, David Lauter, said in a statement that the articles were fair and accurate.

The stories "raised important issues on a matter of significant public concern," Lauter said. "The judge was presented with the facts ... and was given a full opportunity to respond."

Meanwhile Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts transferred a review of Kozinski's conduct to the judicial council of a different circuit. The chairman of the judicial council of the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, then named himself and four other judges to handle the ethics investigation.

Kozinski called for the probe after news articles about the Web site were published. Separately, Kozinski last week declared a mistrial in an obscenity trial over which he was presiding.

The now-blocked material on the Web site,, included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows, and a video of a man being pursued by a sexually aroused donkey. The Times said the site included images of masturbation, and a slide show featuring a striptease with a transsexual.

Attorneys Ask for New Prosecutor for Judge Harris

Defense attorneys have formally asked for a special prosecutor in the indecent exposure case against a Tulsa County district judge to be removed.

Attorneys for Judge Jessie Harris claimed in a court filing Monday that the Washington County District Attorney Rick Esser's office prepared two different sets of charges against in an improper attempt to force Harris to resign.

Harris is charged in Tulsa County with felony indecent exposure for allegedly exposing and fondling himself in front of two women in the parking lot of an east Tulsa motel.

Esser was appointed special prosecutor by the attorney general.

Judge Harris Ruling Postponed

More Updates:

A court ruling on whether a special prosecutor should be disqualified in the case against Tulsa County District Judge Jesse Harris, who is charged with two counts of indecent exposure, has been delayed until June 17.

Osage County District Judge M. John Kane IV was to have rendered a decision Wednesday on the motion to disqualify filed by Harris' lawyers.

However, in papers filed Wednesday with the Tulsa County Court Clerk's Office, Kane said he needed more information from lawyers on both sides of the dispute before he rules.

Kane, who was specially appointed to hear the initial phases of the case against Harris, said he would issue the ruling by 5 p.m June 17.

Kane presided over a daylong hearing last week at which Harris' lawyers, Joel Wohlgemuth and Allen Smallwood, claimed misconduct on the part of Washington County District Attorney Rick Esser's office.

Esser was appointed special prosecutor in the case.

Among other things, Harris' lawyers claimed that Esser's office released graphic details of the alleged crimes to the media before they were filed with the court.

They also said Esser's office acted improperly by trying to get Harris to retire in exchange for misdemeanor charges being filed instead of felonies.

The attorneys argued Esser did not have the authority to seek removal of a judge — and said that authority rested with the state's Council on the Judiciary.

They also said Esser's office tried to contact Harris directly, instead of through his lawyer, which would be a violation of the state's professional rules of conduct.

Judge to decide whether to remove prosecutor


An Osage County judge will rule next week on whether a special prosecutor accused of misconduct should be removed from the indecent-exposure case of a Tulsa judge.

District Judge M. John Kane IV listened to a day's worth of testimony on Wednesday, then took the case under advisement and said he would decide by 5 p.m. June 11.

Kane was appointed to preside over the initial trial phases in the case against Tulsa County District Judge Jesse Harris, who was charged April 24 with two counts of indecent exposure.

Harris is accused of exposing and fondling himself in front of his ex-girlfriend and another woman in the parking lot of an east Tulsa motel on March 9.

Washington County District Attorney Rick Esser was appointed as the special prosecutor in the case, but Harris' lawyers have accused him of leaking a graphic police affidavit before it was filed at the Tulsa County Court Clerk's office.

Defense attorneys Allen Smallwood and Joel Wohlgemuth questioned Esser and assistant district attorney Will Drake about two probable-cause affidavits that had been prepared against Harris in an effort to get him to retire.

One affidavit listed the two felony indecent exposure charges and detailed the alleged crimes. The other affidavit, an alternative one, was prepared with two misdemeanor charges of outraging public decency.

The jail term and fines would have been deferred in the latter option, with the condition that the judge retire from the bench within 30 days of charges being filed.

Esser defended the preparation of the affidavits and noted that the plea offer in return for retirement was not unlike one supposedly offered to former Creek County District Judge Donald Thompson, who was convicted of four counts of indecent exposure in June 2006.

Wohlgemuth said state law gives that kind of discretion to the Oklahoma Council on the Judiciary, not prosecutors.

The defense attorneys also criticized an April phone call from Esser's office to Harris' judicial chambers. Esser said his office was confused about who was representing Harris, so he called to find out the name of Harris' attorney, then Robert Butler.

The defense attorneys claimed that the phone call violated the state's professional rules of conduct.

Tulsa Judge Harris Fighting Back

The felony case against a Tulsa judge heats up. Judge Jesse Harris is fighting back after charges of indecent exposure were filed. He's going after the Washington County District Attorney assigned to his case, asking that the prosecutor be disqualified.

Judge Jesse Harris accuses Washington County District Attorney Rick Esser of intentional misconduct. He filed this motion on Monday to have him removed from the case.

In the filing, Harris claims he has evidence of intentional misconduct and that the DA filed criminal charges against him only after he refused to resign. Harris points to an April 11th and April 18th meeting he had with Esser and others.

The first was several weeks before charges were filed claiming Judge Harris fondled himself in front of an ex-girlfriend and one of her friends.

In the motion, Judge Harris claims if he didn't resign promptly, Esser told him "the press would get a hold of this."

Harris says District Attorney Esser followed through on that threat and provided the Tulsa World with confidential police reports relating to the incident before the charges were filed April 24th.

In the filing, Harris also claims police released a graphic affidavit to the paper to embarrass him as payback for not stepping down.

In the meantime, Judge Harris is no longer presiding over felony cases since he faces two felony counts himself.