U.S. Judge Won't Dismiss Stagliano Obscenity Case

Dec 23, 2009 12:00 AM PST
WASHINGTON — A federal judge Tuesday said he won’t dismiss the Justice Department's case against John Stagliano, Evil Angel Productions and John Stagliano Inc., tossing the defense's argument that obscenity statutes are unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s decision could lead to a trial as early as summer.

At the hearing Tuesday at U.S. District Court at the District of Columbia, Leon said he would consider allowing defense lawyers to file an immediate appeal of his decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Leon called the obscenity charges an “overarching legal issue” that needs to be resolved one way or another.

He said that the federal obscenity statutes provided "sufficient guidance to Internet publishers" and that the right of two adults to have a consensual relationship was vastly different from the right to own an adult video.

"The liberty interest the defendants claim pales in comparison to the liberty interest announced in Lawrence [vs. Texas]," Leon said.

Stagliano's lawyers contend that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence vs. Texas, which found that state laws banning sodomy were unconstitutional, created a right to "sexual privacy," allowing individuals to own and distribute sexually explicit materials.

Stagliano lawyers said also said that by using the District of Columbia as a venue for an obscenity prosecution, the government chilled the rights of adult entertainment companies to copyright their work by making the Washington, D.C., juries the final arbritrator of what is obscene.

They also said that the standards set by federal obscenity laws are too vague.

Stagliano, Evil Angel Productions and John Stagliano Inc. were charged with seven counts in April 2008 of operating an obscenity distribution business and related offenses.

The charges stem from the mail and Internet distribution of two movies "Milk Nymphos," directed by Jay Sin; "Storm Squirters 2," directed by Joey Silvera; and a trailer from Belladonna's "Fetish Fanatic 5."

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