Max Hardcore Takes Fight to Federal Appeals Court

Slav Kandyba
TAMPA, Fla. — Following his conviction in federal court on obscenity charges, Max Hardcore’s legal battle moves on to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a “generally conservative court,” according to one of his attorneys.

Hardcore — whose legal name is Paul F. Little — is free pending appeal, which his attorney Jeffrey Douglas told XBIZ would be filed sometime before the end of the business day Thursday. Douglas represented Hardcore in the obscenity case that resulted in a conviction carrying a sentence of 46 months in prison and fines of more than $1.4 million.

Attorney H. Louis Sirkin will represent Hardcore through the appeal, during which Sirkin will have to prove that Hardcore’s First Amendment-given right to free speech was violated, Douglas said.

“It is an agonizingly slow process,” Douglas told XBIZ. “We need to find errors of constitutional dimension. We’re confident we have those.”

By law, Hardcore has six weeks to file an appeal or must turn himself in to begin serving the sentence because “the Florida Bureau of Prisons will send him a notice” within that time frame, Douglas said.

In handing down her sentence, U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew admonished Hardcore for speaking to the press, sternly advising him that if he wanted to remain a free man, he should stay away from the media.

Bucklew’s recommended prison sentence and fines were at the minimum levels suggested by the federal prosecutors for Hardcore’s 10 counts. Bucklew fined Hardcore $7,500 and Max World Entertainment Inc. for $75,000. The fines on all charges add up to about $1.4 million.

The federal government was asking for more stringent sentencing than what the judge ordered. In a memo filed Oct. 1, the Justice Department attorneys suggested the judge compare Hardcore’s obscenity charge to “child pornography, narcotics and fraud.”

The memo also included several quotes in the media given by Hardcore. The Justice Department argued that these were “not indicative of an individual who possesses any level of acceptance of the crimes he committed.”

Hardcore’s defense team dismissed the government’s memo as failing “to make a vital distinction” between “the definition of obscenity as opposed to child pornography, narcotics and virtually any other contraband.”

The defense memo recalled the obscenity precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court ruling “restricted the government from simply finding the most conservative jurisdiction in the country and utilize that community as a site” for prosecution, according to the memo.

The Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section originally charged Hardcore for mailing 10 adult DVDs to central Florida, as well as operating a website that earned about $1.18 million in revenue in 2005 and 2006.