First Amendment Lawyers Summoned

Gretchen Gallen
CHICAGO, Ill. – A special meeting has been scheduled for all First Amendment lawyers who are members of the First Amendment Lawyers Association (FALA), a source told XBiz.

The impromptu meeting is rumored to be in response to word that the Bush Administration is planning to hand down a slew of obscenity indictments just in time for the Republican National Convention this summer.

FALA's 125-member roster includes some of the most prominent First Amendment attorneys in the United States.

Jeffrey Douglas, chairman of the board of the Free Speech Coalition and former president of FALA, told XBiz that the added meeting has more to do with an over-crowded FALA agenda than a panicky reaction to something that has been widely known ever since George Bush stepped into office. The meeting was scheduled to supplement FALA's twice-yearly meetings.

"I am reasonably confident that we will be talking about those issues, as we did at our February meeting, and as we will at our August meeting, but this meeting is not in reaction to anything we didn't already know," Douglas told XBiz.

There has been widespread speculation that the Bush Administration is more than likely to come out with guns blazing at some point prior to the presidential election, on the heels of the re-hiring of Bruce Taylor as the Justice Department's Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Prosecution Department, and the addition of 25 new lawyers to the child exploitation and obscenity legal team.

The Department of Justice quietly re-hired Taylor earlier this month as the centerpiece of its renewed strategy to pursue increasing numbers of adult entertainment companies on obscenity charges.

Douglas added, however, that it is more likely that indictments of adult entertainment companies will come after the convention, when the Bush political team is scrambling to maximize headlines prior to the election.

"Of course the whole purpose of such activity is to galvanize the George Bush voter base," Douglas told XBiz. "It is highly likely that this administration is going to make a very public attack on the adult entertainment industry as a political payoff."

"The Justice Department has been saying off the record for as long as we can remember that they have a target list," Douglas said. "In contrast to a decade ago, with the advent of the Internet, the magnitude of potential targets [for obscenity cases] has risen beyond measure."

Douglas said that it is unlikely there will be indictments announced during or prior to the convention because search warrants typically proceed an indictment and the process can sometimes stretch out to one or two years.

"The time is running out for this sort of thing to happen, and that alone infuses the issue with urgency," Douglas said. "We have all been trying to remind our potential client base that they have to take this stuff very seriously, but as a legal community, we've known this for a long while."

The supplementary meeting, scheduled for April 26, will be held in Chicago, which is considered a midway point for members of FALA and a location reserved for meetings of "special" status.

The First Amendment Lawyers Association is an Illinois-based, non-profit association originally founded in the late 1960s.

The organization's website (FirstAmendmentLawyersAssociation) was hijacked by a Hong Kong search site and has recently been reestablished as FirstAmendmentLawyers.org.