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Stagliano Attorneys Claim U.S. Wants to Silence Him

Stagliano Attorneys Claim U.S. Wants to Silence Him
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Sep 1, 2009 5:15 PM PDT    Text size: 
WASHINGTON — Evil Angel founder John Stagliano’s attorneys claim that the government’s recent motion to exclude from evidence Stagliano’s personal views seeks to undermine his right to a defense by attempting to silence him.

A filing made yesterday by his attorneys said that the Justice Department is denying Stagliano’s 6th Amendment right by not allowing him to provide “relevant, exculpatory testimony to the jury.”

“In keeping with its intention to censor Stagliano’s erotic expression by this prosecution, the government now further seeks to silence Stagliano from speaking publicly about his craft, his political opinions and the facts of this case,” Stagliano’s motion said.

Stagliano, Evil Angel Productions and John Stagliano Inc. were charged with seven counts of obscenity, stemming from the mail and Internet distribution of two movies "Milk Nymphos," directed by Jay Sin; "Storm Squirters 2," directed by Joey Silvera; and a trailer from Belladonna's "Fetish Fanatic 5."

Justice Department attorneys filed a pre-trial motion in late August to exclude from evidence Stagliano’s personal views he made public to several media outlets after he was indicted on the seven counts in April 2008.

Government attorneys, in a motion in limine, claim that in the context of a trial, Stagliano’s statements to Reason.tv and the Los Angeles Times are “irrelevant, inflammatory and, in some instances, blatant misstatements of the law.”

Stagliano was interviewed for Reason.tv by video journalist Nick Gillespie in Washington, D.C., one day after he was indicted. In the interview, Stagliano discussed the case, as well as his views on the Miller test that defines obscenity, politics and the influence of the Internet on society. The director also described his own personal life, including how he contracted HIV and the positive affect it has had on his viewpoint.

Stagliano, in the interview, questioned enforcement of obscenity laws. “Do you want to live in a kind of country where the government can just say I don’t like you, I don’t like your ideas and what you are doing and let’s just put you in jail?” he asked.

Later in a July 3, 2008, interview in the Los Angeles Times, Stagliano pointed out that he had “no idea” when he would be breaking any federal obscenity laws. “Aren't we already at the point where a government official can get you on some law somewhere if he doesn't like you?" Stagliano told the Times. "Isn't that what an obscenity law really is?”

Justice Department attorneys claim that those statements, among others, to the two media outlets were “prejudicial” and should be barred as tangible evidence, directly or indirectly, by his attorneys and witnesses.

The Justice Department said that Stagliano’s stance on obscenity prosecutions in the video and in the article “are irrelevant and would only serve to inflame the passions of the jury.”

Monday’s motion by Stagliano attorneys also said the government’s request was premature.

“As an initial matter, the government’s motion in limine should be denied because it is not ripe for the court’s review,” Stagliano’s motion said. “To be sure, the government’s motion could not possibly be a serious attempt to exclude evidence from trial, for a trial is neither scheduled nor imminent.”

Stagliano attorneys also said there is “a more pernicious motive underlying the motion” to preclude the Evil Angel founder’s personal views.

“The motion appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to discourage Stagliano from speaking openly about his business, his personal and political beliefs, and to preclude him from testifying in general,” Stagliano’s motion said.

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