Appellate Court Denies Wilson’s Request for Release

Kat Khan
BARTOW, Fla. — A Florida appellate court has denied alleged obscene picture peddler Chris Wilson’s request for immediate release, as reported in XBiz. Earlier this week, Judge J. Dale Durrance revoked Wilson’s bail and remanded him to custody at Polk County Jail.

Attorney Lawrence Walters today said defense counsel filed a motion at the Florida Supreme Court seeking “immediate release of Wilson from illegal detention" on an emegency basis.

“We're happy to see that the appeals court has ordered the Attorney General to respond to the petition on an expedited basis,” Walters said. “We are hopeful of securing our client's release from unlawful incarceration by the end of the year, if not by Christmas.”

Defense counsel also requested an order prohibiting any further bond revocation this week.

Following the court's decision, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the Free Speech Coalition and the First Amendment Lawyers Association today requested a state appeals court to release Wilson from jail.

“Sexual expression in cyberspace is protected by the First Amendment,” Gainesville attorney Gary Edinger said, who submitted the amicus brief on behalf of the three organizations. “It’s unprecedented for government officials to use imprisonment to prevent the distribution of material over the Internet.”

The 19-page brief filed today requests the Florida appellate court reverse Durrance’s ruling to revoke Wilson’s bail and remand him to custody.

“This case is typical of how obscenity law can be misused to censor unpopular speech,” Michelle L. Freridge, FSC executive director, said. “We are proud to stand with the ACLU and FALA in support of Chris Wilson, and we look forward to an expeditious and positive decision by the [appellate court] in this matter.”

Wilson, who operates an amateur-wife-and-girlfriend website, NowThatsFuckedUp.com, was accused of violating his bail agreement last week. Prosecutors contended that the continued use of the site violated the conditions of Wilson's release and filed a motion to revoke his $151,000 bail.

Wilson was arrested in October and is facing 301 obscenity charges for photos police allegedly found on his site, though he removed all explicit material from the site earlier this month. A pretrial conference is set for Feb. 7 at which time a trial date could be set.