Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Extreme Associates Case

Q Boyer
PITTSBURGH — A federal judge who had previously dismissed the case against Extreme Associates, only to have the dismissal overturned on appeal, has denied a second motion to dismiss the case.

Following the reversal of U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster’s earlier dismissal of the case, Extreme Associates’ attorneys H. Louis Sirkin and Jennifer M. Kinsley filed another motion to dismiss, on the grounds that federal obscenity statutes are unconstitutional and do not apply to the Internet.

As an alternative to dismissal of the case, Sirkin and Kinsley moved for a pretrial ruling regarding how the Miller obscenity test would be applied to the case. The defense argued in their motion that the Miller test’s reliance on “community standards” is not viable in when the material in question is distributed via the Internet.

In his latest ruling issued July 30, Lancaster denied the motion to dismiss but granted the pretrial hearing requested as an alternative to dismissal.

“The criminal obscenity statutes at issue, as well as the Miller test, have repeatedly been deemed constitutional,” Lancaster wrote in his order.

Lancaster wrote that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in overturning his prior dismissal of the case, held that “even if the statutes, and applicable standards, have been called into question due to subsequent events, if there is going to be a change in the law it must come from the top down, not from the bottom up.”

Lancaster added that his declining of the defense motion to dismiss does not mean “that the issues raised by the defendants, and the case law they have cited in support, are irrelevant.”

“Indeed, what is meant by ‘community standards’ and ‘as a whole’ in relation to materials transported via the Internet are centrally important to the trial of this matter,” Lancaster wrote. “These factors will affect the court’s ruling on relevant evidentiary issues and the admissibility of evidence, as well as the drafting of jury instructions and perhaps even jury selection.”

Kinsley told XBIZ that Lancaster simply “couldn’t go to the extent of throwing the whole case out like he did last time [because] there is no case that has answered the specific questions” raised in the latest motion to dismiss.

Kinsley said that the upcoming hearing on the question of how the Miller test will be applied could prove “very critical as to what the jury would see” presented as evidence in the case.

“The hearing will address what the jury can consider as part of their ‘community,’” Kinsley said. Kinsley added that even though some of the material indicted as obscene in the case came in the form of DVDs and not online files, that fact “still leaves a fundamental question of ‘community,’ because [investigators] ordered the DVDs via the Internet.”

Kinsley told XBIZ that a status hearing will be held on Aug. 17 to pick a date for the pretrial hearing concerning the application of the Miller test in the case.

“There’s still a long road to go even before we reach a trial,” Kinsley said.

Noting that the case is now well into its third year, Kinsley told XBIZ that while the drawn out progress can be frustrating, there is a bright side to the slow pace involved.

“Every day that there’s not a trial is another day that there can’t be a conviction,” Kinsley said.

Related: