by Dave Weigel
If you've been missing Richard Abowitz's dispatches from the obscenity trial of John Stagliano, correct your error and check in. Things are getting especially interesting, and especially disgraceful on the prosecution's side.
The prosecution revealed that the case began when the Los Angeles Police Department Vice Squad sent themselves to the porn industry's biggest annual convention, Adult Entertainment Expo, in my home town of Las Vegas in 2007. Left unaddressed was why California law enforcement was working so far outside its jurisdiction, particularly given that Southern California is the production center of the porn industry. Similarly revealing was that after deciding to target Stagliano, whose residence and business do fall in L.A. County, Los Angeles police chose not to investigate him, and instead contacted the FBI's obscenity crew to step in.
Defense attorney Paul Cambria in his opening statement suggested an explanation. The movies in question, he noted, "do not contain illegal sex acts." There were no depictions of force or violence. Every participant was a consenting adult. In other words, since Stagliano was not violating any California laws, the local vice squad, rather than respect his right to keep working legally, chose to punish him by tipping off the feds.
That contact was the catalyst that ultimately lead Special Agent Bradley to go "undercover" to order Milk Nymphos and Storm Squirters 2 from Stagliano's distribution company so that the DVDs would cross state lines (from Maryland to D.C.) and therefore enter the FBI's jurisdiction. Now, three years later, the government is offering arguments about the director's choice of close-up shots as evidence of a crime.
The Reasonoids have more.