Kansas City Grand Jury Indicts 2 Adult Shops for Obscenity

Anne Winter
KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Two adult shops were indicted for promoting obscenity, the first result of a local conservative group's petition for grand jury investigations of 32 adult businesses in six counties.

M&M Inc. was charged with one misdemeanor count of promoting obscenity and the Smoke Easy Cigarette Outlet was charged with two misdemeanor counts of promoting obscenity as well as a felony and misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia with intent to deliver.

The National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families began in mid-May sending petitions for grand jury investigations to rid the area of adult entertainment. Its efforts also could set the local standard for what material is and is not obscene.

The businesses targeted in the Wyandotte County investigation were not among the 32 shops petitioned.

Several other grand juries convened in three other counties have yet to hand out indictments.

First amendment lawyer Lawrence Walters told XBIZ that though the grand jury's determination alone does not mean much legally, he said, the government could use it in future obscenity hearings — taking the heat off of itself and arguing that it was community members who decided the material was obscene, not the government.

"Like the old saying goes," Walters said, "You can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. Grand juries typically indict whatever the prosecution tells them to indict because there is no other side presented."

In order for grand jury members to determine that the adult material in question is in fact obscene, they must be shown "the entire work" — requiring them to view adult movies and examine adult novelties.

Walters said the grand juries' focus will be on whether the materials meet the threshold for obscenity — whether the materials depict or describe sexual activity — and there is little adult material that would be excluded from that classification.

"If [prosecutors] are bringing these [materials] to a grand jury," Walters said, "then they are almost certainly going to be indicted. There are going to be trials, there are going to be cases, and whoever is the target of the grand jury hearings needs to be prepared for a battle."

M&M Inc. and the Smoke Easy Cigarette Outlet are scheduled to appear in court Sept. 14 for a pretrial conference.