U.S. Wants to Exclude Stagliano’s Views on Obscenity Laws

WASHINGTON — Justice Department attorneys filed a pre-trial motion Friday to exclude from evidence Evil Angel founder John Stagliano’s personal views he made public to several media outlets after he was indicted on seven counts of obscenity in April 2008.

Government attorneys, in a motion in limine, claim that in the context of a trial, Stagliano’s statements to Reason.tv and the Los Angeles Times are “irrelevant, inflammatory and, in some instances, blatant misstatements of the law.”

Stagliano counsel Allan B. Gelbard told XBIZ that the latest motion filed by the government “is a little odd,” particularly since the federal judge in the case has not even decided Stagliano’s motion to dismiss that was filed more than 10 months ago.

“I think they are trying to light a fire under the federal judge,” said Gelbard, who noted that U.S. Judge Richard Leon, who is hearing the Stagliano case, has been busy weighing matters over prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. No trial date for the Stagliano case has been set.

Stagliano was interviewed for Reason.tv by video journalist Nick Gillespie in Washington, D.C., one day after he was indicted. In the interview, Stagliano discussed the case, as well as his views on the Miller test that defines obscenity, politics and the influence of the Internet on society. The director also described his own personal life, including how he contracted HIV and the positive affect it has had on his viewpoint.

Stagliano, in the interview, questioned enforcement of obscenity laws. “Do you want to live in a kind of country where the government can just say I don’t like you, I don’t like your ideas and what you are doing and let’s just put you in jail?” he asked.

Later in a July 3, 2008, interview in the Los Angeles Times, Stagliano pointed out that he had “no idea” when he would be breaking any federal obscenity laws. “Aren't we already at the point where a government official can get you on some law somewhere if he doesn't like you?" Stagliano told the Times. "Isn't that what an obscenity law really is?”

Justice Department attorneys claim that those Stagliano, among others, to the two media outlets were “prejudicial” and should be barred as tangible evidence, directly or indirectly, by his attorneys and witnesses.

The Justice Department said that Stagliano’s stance on obscenity prosecutions in the video and in the article “are irrelevant and would only serve to inflame the passions of the jury.”

The prosecution asserts that Stagliano’s view that community standards are different in cases involving obscene matter distributed through the Internet is contrary to established law, that his belief that he did not know that he was breaking the law is irrelevant and that any mention of a potential sentence in a criminal case is improper.

“[S]ome of the evidence is false and would confuse and mislead the jury on critical legal issues, which will be discussed by the court in its instructions to the jury,” the motion said. “Moreover, if such evidence is heard by the jury, the damage to the government's case will be irreparable; no motion to strike or cautionary instructions would be sufficient to cure the harm.”

Stagliano, Evil Angel Productions and John Stagliano Inc. were charged with seven counts of operating “an obscenity distribution business and related offenses.”

The charges stem from the mail and Internet distribution of two movies "Milk Nymphos," directed by Jay Sin; "Storm Squirters 2" directed by Joey Silvera; and a trailer from Belladonna's "Fetish Fanatic 5."

Editor’s note: The Reason.tv interview can be seen in Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube.com.