First Amendment

Soon to be Playing at LA Federal Courthouse: Hard-Core Porn

  • Print

Jurors at an ongoing federal trial in Los Angeles will soon be asked to watch some six hours of hard-core porn movies. Their mission: to determine whether the videotapes, some of which reportedly feature bestiality and defecation, have any literary, artistic or scientific value.

If not, they will be asked to convict the defendant filmmaker in the obscenity case, 57-year-old Ira Isaacs, who also starred in one movie, reports the Los Angeles Times. He is charged with allegedly importing, transporting and distributing obscene material via four videos he was selling on the Internet. (Before being raided by the FBI last year, Isaacs tells the newspaper, he was selling around 1,000 videotapes per month for $30 each.)

The case is the first brought in the state by a Bush administration pornography prosecution task force formed in 2005, at the urging of conservative Christian groups seeking a smut crackdown. Earlier cases by a have been brought in more conservative states, such as Texas, and have often been settled with plea bargains.

It remains to be seen whether a Calfornia jury will convict, even though Isaacs himself admits his movies may be hard for the jury to stomach, the newspaper reports. (He says he has refused to accept an offered plea bargain in the case, for which jury selection was expected to begin yesterday, because he considers himself a shock artist, rather than a pornographer.)

Plus, in what the newspaper describes as a stroke of luck for the defense, the randomly selected presiding judge will be Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who is considered a staunch free-speech defender. Appeals court judges sometimes hear district court cases, on a rotating basis, in addition to their usual appellate duties.

Isaacs, who plans to testify as his own expert witness at trial, expects to point out to the jury that artistic standards have changed over the years, and portray himself as a successor to once-controversial authors such as James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence.

“If I get convicted and go to prison now,” he says the Times, “I go as an artist.”

Earlier coverage: “Feds Pursue Obscene in Sea of Porn”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.