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Jury convicts Max Hardcore

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Bill of Rights (From public domain.)

On June 3, 2008, I blogged about the Paul Little/Max Hardcore federal obscenity trial that was then underway.

Sadly, on June 5, the jury convicted Mr. Little on ten counts of distributing obscenity online and by snail mail. Jury deliberations were emotional. The foreperson told the judge on the same day of the guilty verdict: “Emotions were very high … It would be great if we could take a break now.” Was the jury unconstitutionally pressured by the judge into reaching a unanimous verdict?

In his closing argument, defense lawyer Jeffrey Douglas tried obtaining an acquittal by arguing that the allegedly obscene material has political value. He argued that “the politically incorrect depiction and relationship with women … is the actual evidence of serious political value.” A work cannot be obscene unless the work, when “taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973).

Max Hardcore’s videos apparently include scenes that seriously demean women, and include urination and vomiting. The defense tried depicting Max Hardcore as a fictitious character in the tradition of Archie Bunker and Homer Simpson. Defense lawyer Jeffrey Douglas argued that “Low-brow entertainment has serious value … This prosecution is wrong. This prosecution stinks.”

This prosecution of Paul Little does stink, starting with the stinking up of the First Amendment caused by all obscenity arrests and prosecutions.

Now, the defense will prepare for a separate sentencing hearing and for appeal. Thanks to the defense team for its ongoing fight for justice. Jon Katz.

ADDENDUM: Thanks to a fellow listserv member for informing me of this sad verdict.