Stagliano Trial to Proceed in Washington

May 14, 2010 12:00 PM PST
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Thursday denied John Stagliano's motions to change his upcoming obscenity trial's venue and to strike one of the counts of the indictment against him.

The federal judge in the case also ruled for the government in precluding as evidence Stagliano interviews to the press, as well as disallowing a plea to probe the internal workings of the FBI's and Justice Department's operations relative to obscenity prosecution efforts.

Stagliano and his companies — Evil Angel Productions Inc. and John Stagliano Inc. — are charged with seven counts for illegal possession, distribution and sale of two videos sent through the mail — "Milk Nymphos" and "Storm Squirters 2 'Target Practice'" — and a trailer of "Fetish Fanatic Chapter 5" shown on the Internet.

Stagliano's attorneys had been trying to convince U.S. District Judge Richard Leon that Washington is not an appropriate venue for the case, particularly since nearly all their witnesses and documents are based in California where most adult production studios operate and that the expense and logistics would be nightmarish.

On Thursday, however, Leon denied a change in venue.

He also denied Stagliano's motion to throw out the seventh count of the indictment, which alleges the distribution of obscene materials in a manner that "may be available to minors."

His attorneys argued that the "cover page of the indictment clearly and untruthfully infers that the works were actually distributed to minors." They contended that the charge is "so prejudicial and inflammatory that the jury may be unable to follow and may consciously ignore any limiting instruction the court may give on the subject."

Leon also decided Thursday that the government can preclude evidence of Stagliano interviews by Reason.tv.

The two interviews, entitled, “U.S. vs. John Stagliano, Part One” and “U.S. vs. John Stagliano, Part Two,” can't be heard by the Stagliano jury, said Leon, without comment on his ruling. The ruling also stands against Stagliano's comments to the Los Angeles Times.

Federal prosecutors argued in an August motion that Stagliano's comments to Reason and the Times would be"improper" to a jury.

"[H]is views on the government’s motive for bringing this prosecution are irrelevant and would only serve to inflame the passions of the jury," prosecutors wrote. "[His] assertion that the community standards the jury applies are different in cases involving obscene matter distributed via the Internet is contrary to established law."

Federal prosecutors also contended that "his belief that he did not know that he was breaking the law is irrelevant."

In Thursday's ruling, Leon also denied Stagliano attorney's attempt to order the Justice Department to disclose FBI obscenity guidelines. Stagliano attorneys are seeking to determine whether prosecutors engaged in forum shopping, prohibited by the Justice Department's own internal policies.

Allan Gelbard, one of Stagliano's attorneys, declined to discuss with XBIZ Thursday's decisions by Leon.

In related news, Stagliano attorneys gave notice that they intend on calling several expert witnesses to the stand when trial begins in July, including Dr. Constance Penley, Dr. Marty Kline, Dr. Christine Y. Henny, Dr. Lawrence I. Sank and Dr. William A. Fisher.

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