Prosecutors Want to Scuttle Stagliano's Expert Testimony

Jun 1, 2010 3:00 PM PST
WASHINGTON — John Stagliano's attorneys have asked a federal judge to deny prosecutors' request to exclude all defense expert testimony.

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

Prosecutors, however, contend that Stagliano attorneys " have provided only scant information to the government about the witnesses’ expert opinions and have not provided any information concerning the bases for those opinions.”

Stagliano's attorneys, meanwhile, pointed to three arguments against prosecutorial complaints, including that Stagliano should be permitted to offer expert testimony in his defense on all three prongs of the Miller test used to define obscenity, the government is not entitled to written summaries of expert testimony and that testimony of the experts will be relevant and reliable.

The Miller test, as decided in the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case Miller vs. California, has three parts:

  • Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

  • Whether the work depicts/describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law; and,

  • Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Stagliano's attorneys say prosecutors are seeking to scuttle all expert witness testimony since “the films are the evidence of what they represent," according to a government motion.

"[W]hile the government is technically correct that 'expert testimony is not required in obscenity cases,' it does not follow, as the government implies it does, that defendants should be precluded from putting on experts here," Stagliano attorneys said.

"On the contrary, nearly every court to have considered the issue has held that the defendant can and should be permitted to introduce competent, relevant and appropriate expert testimony regarding the three prongs of Miller. This is exactly what the defendants herein propose to do."

Stagliano attorneys, in a motion on Friday, asked U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to deny the government’s motion to exclude all defense expert testimony and to reserve judgment on the admissibility and scope of Stagliano experts’ testimony until they are prepared to call such experts following the completion of the government’s case.

They also asked Leon to deny the government’s request for complete written summaries of the defendants’ proposed experts.

On Monday, meanwhile, both sides filed court papers relative to proposed jury instructions. The case, expected to last two weeks, begins in Washington on July 7.

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 faces a maximum of 32 years in jail and $7 million in fines if convicted on all counts.

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