Jury Goes to Deliberate in Max Hardcore Case

Joanne Cachapero
TAMPA, Fla. — Today, just after 1 p.m. EST, the jury in the Max Hardcore case went to deliberation. The action follows a weeklong trial where jurors have been asked to determine if the content of five DVDs produced and directed by Paul Little, aka Max Hardcore, are obscene by local community standards in the city of Tampa.

Yesterday, as expected, U.S. District Court Judge Susan C. Bucklew denied a motion by the defense for Hardcore and his company MaxWorld Enterprises to be acquitted on all charges.

Hardcore and his company have been charged with five counts of using a computer to sell obscene matter and an additional five counts of delivering obscene material through the U.S. mail. Hardcore faces a maximum of 25 years for each count involving the computer and 45 years for conviction on the remaining counts.

In closing arguments, MaxWorld attorney Lou Sirkin asked the jury to consider more than 60 adult business located in the Tampa area, which may infer accepting community standards toward adult-oriented material.

Sirkin also pointed out to jurors that if all speech was “pretty and what was acceptable” to the public, then there would be no need for the protections afforded by the 1st Amendment. He reminded jurors that they could chose to watch or not watch whatever content they like in private, as long as it was consensual.

Justice Department lawyer Edward McAndrew told the jury that they had probably never viewed anything similar to Hardcore’s videos in their lives. McAndrew called Hardcore’s content an “assault” on the jurors’ senses. He also pointed out that availability of adult material in the community did not necessarily reflect the community’s acceptance of such material.

During the trial, members of the jury were required to watch nearly 8½ hours of Hardcore’s videos in open court, though some were not viewed in their entirety, as was pointed out by the defense.

Because the Miller test, used by the federal government as a standard for determining obscenity, requires that works be considered as a whole, the defense argued that the jury must view each video in question, in order to arrive at their final determination.

The defense has also argued that Hardcore is not guilty of the charges because he was unaware that his website’s servers were located in Tampa, and had no intention of disseminating content in that area.

Because the videos were purchased by a Tampa-based postal inspector from California-based distributor Jaded Video's website, the defense also stated that Hardcore was not guilty of using the U.S. Mail to transport the DVDs to Tampa, since Hardcore shipped the movies to his distributor in California via private shipping company UPS.

The owner of Jaded Video was granted immunity by the court for his testimony at the trial.

The jury could return with their decision as soon as tomorrow. A guilty or not guilty verdict could have far-reaching implications for other obscenity prosecutions where adult producers have been charged, including the ongoing Extreme Associates case, and the recent indictment on obscenity charges against adult producer/director John Stagliano and Evil Angel.