Judge Asked to Preclude Some Arguments in Torture Portal Obscenity Case

Aug 18, 2009 2:30 PM PST
NEWARK, N.J. — Justice Department attorneys on Tuesday asked a federal judge to exclude references to a prior Montana obscenity case filed against Torture Portal operator Barry Goldman when the case goes to trial.

Miami resident Goldman, 59, was indicted by a federal grand jury last month on obscenity charges for mailing the films “Torture of a Porn Store Girl,” “Defiant Crista Submits” and “Pregnant and Willing” in 2006 and 2007.

The case, originally filed in Montana after another federal grand jury indicted him last year, was moved to New Jersey, where he was charged with eight counts of mailing obscene material.

The issue at hand is of importance to adult producers indicted for obscenity because determination of the court venue has been historically critical to outcome.

Tuesday’s pre-trial motion, coincidentally on the day Goldman was arraigned, claimed that “consideration of the prior case in Montana or of internal Justice Department policies are irrelevant to the jury's task and could seriously confuse the jury in applying the court's instructions.”

“The court is requested to preclude the defendant, his attorney and any defense witness from making argument, commenting before the jury, or posing questions that touch upon the prior case in Montana or any Justice Department policy,” the Justice Department said in its motion to assigned U.S. District Judge Joseph A. Greenway Jr.

Justice Department attorneys filed a motion in limine, which is a motion made before the start of a trial requesting that the judge rule that certain evidence may or may not be introduce to the jury, in hope that jurors won’t find the department’s maneuvers in the case irregular.

Billings, Mont.-based U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull transferred the case to New Jersey because there was no apparent connection to Montana aside from undercover FBI agents asking Goldman to send the DVDs there. Cebull noted that an undercover FBI agent from Virginia first met Goldman at a 2006 adult entertainment convention in Las Vegas.

Prosecutors moved for a stay of Cebull’s order and then filed a mid-case appeal with the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals, asking the court to expedite its consideration of the issue. After the judges agreed to hear arguments in early June, the Justice Department abruptly reversed course, claiming that the indictment should never have been sought in Montana in the first place.

Prior to the oral argument date at the 9th Circuit, the Justice Department said it filed a motion to dismiss the indictment "in order to conform with the Justice Department's policy on venue."

“[The agency] decided to withdraw its petition due to the fact that the initiation of the prosecution in Montana was not consistent with an internal Justice Department policy regarding venue in an obscenity case," Tuesday's motion said.

"Accordingly, the [9th Circuit] granted the government's motion to withdraw its petition, and the [federal] district court granted the government's motion to dismiss its case without prejudice."

On July 23, the Newark grand jury returned an indictment against Goldman. Three of the counts in the New Jersey case relate to the same facts in the Montana case, the Justice Department said.

If convicted, Goldman faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of the eight counts charged in the indictment.

The Justice Department also is seeking forfeitures of all copies of the movies, as well as proceeds from the sale of the movies. In addition, they are seeking the forfeitures of domain names MastersOfPain.com and TorturePortal.com, as well as an email address, SirBNY@aol.com.

XBIZ calls to U.S. Attorneys Bonnie Hannon and Pamela Satterfield went unreturned by post time. Calls to reach Goldman's federal public defender went unanswered.

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