Joe Francis Changes Attorneys in Fla.

Joe Francis Changes Attorneys in Fla.
Tod Hunter
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — "Girls Gone Wild" owner Joe Francis has fired Aaron Dyer and Larry Simpson, the two attorneys who have represented him for the last four years, and replaced them with lawyer Roy Black.

The Florida-based Black won acquittal of William Kennedy Smith on rape charges in Palm Beach, Fla., in 1991 and also represented Rush Limbaugh after he was arrested on charges of doctor shopping in 2006.

Black filed his first motion in Francis' case at once, a request for bond that he can file under seal, or out of the public eye. The request was not immediately acted on.

Francis is facing two counts each of using and conspiring to use minors in a sexual performance after shooting two 17-year-old girls performing sex acts with each other in a Panama City Beach motel shower during spring break in 2003. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.

At one time, Francis had been charged with 43 offenses from 2003, but Judge Dedee Costello dismissed most of the charges after throwing out all the physical evidence that had been collected under a flawed search warrant.

While representing Francis, Dyer and Simpson won almost every legal argument they presented. In 2004, they convinced Judge Michael Overstreet that girls baring their breasts in public, regardless of their age, was not prohibited by state law, and that it was not illegal to record it.

They also filed the motions that got the physical evidence thrown out and the majority of the charges dismissed. But in a recent case, Costello found that the charges did not require Francis to verify the performers' ages when a cameraman shot them in a sexual situation. The defense had argued that knowledge of age, and therefore criminal intent, was essential to the charge.

Costello refused to dismiss the remaining charges.

Francis has been incarcerated in Nevada the last four months awaiting trial on charges of tax evasion. Although he has been granted bond, he has not been allowed to leave jail because of Costello’s detainer on him. If Francis is released from jail in Nevada, he would be returned to jail in Florida.

On Tuesday, Black filed notice with Costello that he would be the new attorney of record, replacing Dyer and Simpson. Dyer is still Francis' attorney in his tax case in Nevada, and it is not clear whether he will remain so.

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