Isaacs Shouldn't Remain Free Pending Appeal, U.S. Prosecutors Say

Apr 3, 2013 4:15 PM PST

SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. prosecutors filed court papers today with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to oppose Ira Isaacs' motion allowing him to remain free on bail pending his appeal.

Justice Department attorneys claim in their opposition that Isaacs hasn't raised a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in reversal, a new trial or a sentence of no confinement.

Isaacs, who was stayed a surrender date in February after his conviction on obscenity charges, was given another sentencing date late last month, but his counsel, Roger Jon Diamond, re-filed a motion on Friday with the 9th Circuit to allow the fetish filmmaker to remain free pending his appeal.   

Isaacs was found guilty in April 2012 on five counts of violating federal obscenity laws over the mail distribution of  "Mako’s First Time Scat, " "Hollywood Scat Amateurs #7," "Hollywood Scat Amateurs #10" and "Japanese Doggie 3 Way."

In today's opposition, federal prosecutors address Isaacs' exclusion as an expert witness on his own behalf in the third trial (two others ended in mistrials), as well as limitations put forth on Diamond in his closing argument and the clarification of the meaning of "prurient interest" upon questions from the jury.

All of those issues were addressed in a re-filing of the appeal made by Diamond last week.

Federal prosecutors, in its opposition, claim that Isaacs was unable to meet the terms of the court as an expert witness, which determined that he wasn't qualified to testify as an expert. At trial, however, Isaacs was allowed to testify about his goals, inspirations, and intended meaning for the videos that he created.

Prosecutors also defended claims that the district court placed undue limitations on Diamond's closing argument. U.S. District Judge George King sustained the government's objections when Diamond discussed whether most other countries have the equivalent of the First Amendment and when he stated that in some countries one can get executed for exercising freedom of speech.

They also addressed Diamond's argument that the judge's clarification of the meaning of “prurient interest” upon a jury question during deliberations presented a “substantial question.”

The question by the jury was asked as part of the Miller test, a three-prong that sets the criteria over obscene works.

(The Miller test asks whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that a work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functionsspecifically defined by state law; whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientifical value.)

"The district court — in response to the jury question: 'Under "prurient" interest, must all three criteria be met? ‘Morbid, degrading and unhealthy interest in sex’?” — conducted further research on the issue and found that [the 9th Circuit] had approved an instruction of 'prurient interest' that construed the descriptive terms in the disjunctive," federal prosecutors said.

"The district court clarified for the jury that the phrase 'morbid, degrading, and unhealthy' did not list separate criteria; instead, they are descriptive terms that describe what is a prurient interest as opposed to a mere candid interest in sex, and therefore, the jury need not find that the movies satisfy all three descriptive terms to be 'prurient,'" federal prosecutors said.

"There can be no dispute that the court’s instruction here was a correct statement of law."

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