Va. Obscenity Case Gets Aug. Trial

Tod Hunter
STAUNTON, Va. — A motion to dismiss obscenity charges against a Staunton adult video store owner and one of his employees on constitutional grounds was denied at a hearing Wednesday morning in Staunton Circuit Court. The case is scheduled to proceed to trial Aug. 12.

After Hours Video owner Rick Krial, his company, LSP of Virginia, and Tinsley W. Mabry, a clerk in the store, face misdemeanor and felony indictments for 12 DVDs sold in October to undercover police officers.

Following a March 6 hearing in Staunton Circuit Court, defense attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that Virginia obscenity laws violate privacy rights as protected by the 14th Amendment. Judge Thomas H. Wood denied that motion at the Wednesday hearing.

Wood also denied a defense motion to investigate the grand jury that originally handed down the indictments. The motion questioned whether the grand jury was given sufficient instructions regarding the definition of "obscene material," and also whether grand jurors had considered each of the 12 videos for which indictments were handed down in their “totality.” Wood denied the motion as impractical, as grand jury proceedings in Virginia are not recorded.

Wood did not approve the defense's proposed pre-trial questionnaire for potential jurors, stating such a move would exceed his explicitly granted authority, bud did approve a defense motion barring prosecutors from identifying an attorney assisting the prosecution as a Justice Department lawyer, or from noting that two of the defense attorneys — First Amendment lawyers Paul Cambria Jr., of Buffalo, and Louis Sirkin, of Cincinnati — are from other states.

Because of Virginia laws that enhance penalties for subsequent offenses, if the Aug. 12 trial on two misdemeanor charges results in a guilty verdict, subsequent prosecution on the indictments would be for felony charges.