Evil Angel Productions owner John Stagliano will have his first formal chance to get the charges against him dismissed on Tuesday, Nov. 25, when his attorney Allan B. Gelbard will mount a multi-faceted attack on the government's contention that
two DVDs sent by Evil Angel to FBI agents in the District of Columbia, and one trailer downloaded there, are obscene.
Gelbard's introduction to his Motion sets out the major arguments he will use before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon
Initially, all charges based on the downloading of the Internet trailer from the Evil Angel website are constitutionally impermissible as any finding of obscenity requires the work(s) must be 'taken as a whole' and evaluated based on
'contemporary community standards', Gelbard summarizes: Both terms have been found unconstitutionally vague as applied to Internet speech. Additionally, their cumulative effect, in combination with the government's ability to 'forum shop'
the prosecution, further exacerbates the due process violation.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., refused to dismiss a case against pornography producers who were charged with trafficking hard-core porn films across state lines and displaying illicit movie trailers online.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon rejected their claim that federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional.
John Stagliano and Evil Angel Productions Inc. claimed that federal laws criminalizing the interstate trafficking of obscenity were unconstitutional. They argued that the law barring a Web site from displaying obscene materials was
unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, because made online material subject to the community standards of the most conservative jurisdictions in the country.
But Judge Leon said the law was confined to a very narrow legal definition of obscenity. He said he is certain that online material will be judged as a whole and not individually according to obscenity laws, quashing filmmakers concerns
that the trailer would be taken out of context.
Federal obscenity statutes require items to be judged in context of surrounding work. The government will have to show that the trailer is obscene in the context of the Web page, Leon said.
He also rejected their claim of a right to sexual privacy, saying such a right does not cover the distribution of obscene materials. He said the producers' case pales in comparison and does not even remotely approach the sexual
privacy cases concerning homosexual rights and rights to obtain birth control. However you look at it, obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment, Leon concluded.
A federal judge has set a July 7 trial date for the obscenity case against John Stagliano and his two production companies, Evil Angel Productions Inc. and John Stagliano Inc.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, at a status conference in Washington at 3 p.m., set the trial date one month and one day after he rejected Stagliano's claim that federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional.
Leon said last month that obscene material is not protected by the 1st Amendment: Having considered the defendants' overbreath of arguments, I am not convinced that such strong medicine is warranted in this case. Nor am I convinced that the
federal obscenity statutes are unconstitutionally vague as applied to Internet speech.
The jury selection process has begun in the highly-anticipated John Stagliano obscenity trial.
Opening statements will more than likely begin at the end of the week.
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
Stagliano faces a maximum of 32 years in jail and $7 million in fines if convicted on all counts. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
The judge has ruled the John Stagliano case is over.
US District Judge Richard Leon, ruling that the government didn't meet the burden of evidence on any of the eight charges, admonished prosecutors over their efforts.
I trust that the government will learn a lesson when going forward, Leon said in his ruling. The myriad of novel legal issues that have bubbled up in this case will continue to pop up around the country.
Leon found that the government had not shown any evidence that either of the two corporate entities effectively had any direct ties to the charges, or that the defendant himself had any direct links to the videos he was charged with.
While there was circumstantial evidence, Leon ruled that it was insufficient for a jury to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The courtroom erupted into applause after the judge read his ruling and dismissed the jury.
Outside the courtroom Stagliano, perhaps joking, said he was disappointed. [The government] didn't put up much of a fight. They were sloppy and not passionate and doing the prosecution for the wrong reasons, Stagliano told XBIZ.
A Stagliano attorney, Louis Sirkin, told XBIZ that it proves if you've got the guts to fight, wonderful things can happen. He compared Stagliano to Lenny Bruce and others who protect the 1st Amendment.
John Stagliano was set free last week when a federal judge ended his obscenity trial on procedural grounds. If convicted, John would have been jailed for 32 years and had his home and business confiscated.
Instead, a few million dollars of your tax money was wasted by a Department of Justice investigation, purchase, viewing, and indictment of Milk Nymphos, Storm Squirters, and Fetish Fanatic.
The charge was simply that the DVDs appealed to the average person's prurient interest, were patently offensive, and lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. These are the actual words of the Miller
Test that guide the law. If you can get a jury to agree that a given recording, painting, book, DVD, or stage show meets these three tests, the government can declare the thing obscene. It then loses its First Amendment protection, and it
creator and distributor can be sent to jail.
Adult film maker John Stagliano (Buttman) issued the following statement decrying the recent attacks on personal liberties by moral crusaders:
This week, the group 'Pornography Harms' continued its campaign to ban free speech and adult entertainment through a letter circulated around Capitol Hill with the goal of spurring elected officials into enacting the group's
dangerous agenda. The letter cites worn-out and debunked claims that view.
Recent statistics show those claims simply are not true. A study from a Clemson University economist showed that violent and sexual crimes have actually decreased as Internet usages have increased. The study's author found
that states whose Internet access expanded the fastest saw rapes and sexual crimes decline the most.
We are tired of being slandered. It is apparent that if people are left free to consume pornography, if they so choose, the world is a healthier, less violent place.'
In 2008, the Department of Justice's Obscenity Prosecution Task Force brought charges against Stagliano in a trial which gained national attention over its free speech implications. In July of 2010, the trial ended in a
Judicial Acquittal after the Judge ruled there wasn't sufficient evidence presented by the prosecution to convict. Groups such as Pornography Harms have lobbied government agencies and elected officials to continue to stifle first amendment /
free speech rights through similar prosecutions.
The recent Pornography Harms letter urges readers to donate to Morality in Media, an organization with a long history of First Amendment suppression tactics and alignment with other censorship driven groups. They have
frequently used similar outlandish claims and factual distortions as part of their extremist agenda, such as claiming there's a link between gay marriage and mass killings. If these anti-speech activists are initially successful with their
censorship agenda, they won't stop until they have turned all broadcasts and publications in line with their narrow worldview.
The only real violence involved is prosecuting someone like me with an obscenity law, a law that you can't know in advance when you are breaking it.'