LOS ANGELES — The federal government’s prosecution of Stolen Car Films / LA Media owner and self-confessed “shock artist” Ira Isaacs began this morning at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
Shortly after 9:30 a.m., U.S. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth F. Whitted began opening statements to the jury made up of eight men and six women of diverse ages and backgrounds. The assistant attorney general was followed by First Amendment defense attorney Roger Jon Diamond, representing Isaacs.
Prosecution for the government called two witnesses — FBI Special Agent James Myrick and former Stolen Car Films employee Brandy Krieger.
Myrick, who is part of the government’s Obscenity Prosecution Task Force (OPTF), testified about several purchases he made through websites owned by Isaacs from 2004-2006 as part of a special, undercover investigation. The purchases, shipped via UPS included “Gang Bang Horse — ‘Pony Sex Game’” and “Mako’s First Time Scat.”
Myrick also gave a detailed account of the search warrant executed on Jan. 17, 2007 at Isaac’s Wilshire Boulevard office.
“We found documents indicating that Ira Isaacs was the sole proprietor and operator of Stolen Car Films / LA Media and its corresponding websites and domain names,” Myrick said on the stand.
Myrick added that at the time of the search, Isaacs was fully cooperative and did not request a lawyer present for the police interview that took place at the time. Both the Los Angeles and Huntington Beach police departments were involved in the investigation and consequent raid.
Under cross-examination of Myrick, Diamond was able to establish that while Myrick was performing his job of searching for obscenity online, the sort of material that Isaacs’ distributed “was easily found.”
Prosecution also called Isaacs’ former employee, Brandy Krieger. The 29-year-old graphic artist testified she had worked for Isaacs for about two years previous and that most of the films in question had been made at Isaac’s home.
In an interview with XBIZ, Diamond said he would call just two witnesses when court reconvenes tomorrow — Dr. Mohan Nair of Los Alamitos, Calif., a psychiatrist, and his client, Ira Isaacs.
“Dr. Nahir will testify that the materials in this case have serious, scientific value, Mr. Isaacs will testify artistic value and I will argue political value,” Diamond told XBIZ.
Both parties agreed to a case stipulation of facts — Isaacs did not deny that he transported all and imported at least one of the films in question, and that they were sold online through his company.
“The facts are not in dispute, what is in dispute is whether the movies that Mr. Isaacs readily admits to distributing are legally obscene,” Diamond said. “Pornography is not something that anyone should be ashamed of and consenting adults ought to be able to see and read whatever the choose. The government should not interfere.”
“The Ira Isaacs case, like that against Paul Little [aka Max Hardcore], looks like a new front for prosecution of pornography against those who primarily convey adult material over the Internet,” CEO and publisher of LawDragon.com Katrina Dewey told XBIZ. “Both are interesting tests of the shifting frontier of American tolerance, which combines a deep and abiding respect for the First Amendment with a puritanism that is at odds with the rampant popularity of adult material distributed online.”
At press time, the jury had been directed to the Pasadena courthouse to view footage from the films in question. The trial will resume tomorrow morning.
During court proceedings today, the Los Angeles Times reported that the judge presiding over the Isaacs’ trial, Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, has maintained a public website featuring sexually explicit material.
It was unclear at press time whether or not the developments would effect the case. When questioned about the revelations, the assistant attorney general answered with a brisk, “We can’t comment.”
“The LA Times article should have no bearing on this case,” Diamond told XBIZ. “[Judge Kozinski] is a very fair judge and I am sure he will follow the law. This is a jury decision.
“We will move on with the trial and we’ll hope that the jury sees it our way and votes not guilty for Mr. Isaacs.”