Justice Dept. Drops Salon.com Reporter's Subpoena in Isaacs Case

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — Justice Department attorneys have backed down on requiring Salon.com reporter Tracy Clark-Flory to testify in the Ira Isaacs obscenity case.

Clark-Flory was prepared to fly from her San Francisco base to Los Angeles for trial Thursday after she was subpoenaed over dialogue she had with the fetish filmmaker in a Q&A conducted last year.

But late Tuesday, Clark-Flory said that Salon's attorneys were told by the government that her presence for the trial was no longer needed.

"Earlier this afternoon, my lawyers were alerted that the government had dropped the subpoena," Clark-Flory told XBIZ late Tuesday. "I'm not sure whether it had to do with the article I published this morning about the subpoena, or something else entirely."

Clark-Flory said prosecutors had previously "reassured us that the scope of questions would be limited to simply verifying that [Isaacs] said what I said he said and the surrounding circumstances."

She said that prosecutors wer focusing on one of numerous questions she posed to Isaacs in an interview with him last year.

The question and his response are the following:

Clark-Flory: "As far as your upcoming trial, one of your goals is to prove that your videos have artistic merit."

Isaacs: "I have to do that to sound not guilty."

Prosecutors contend that Isaacs from at least May 2004 and continuing to at least April 14, 2011, operated "a business engaging in the production, distribution, transportation and sale of obscene videos and movies."

The government in the case is targeting the movies "Mako’s First Time Scat," "Hollywood Scat Amateurs #7," "Hollywood Scat Amateurs #1" and "Japanese Doggie 3 Way."

Isaacs, in a 2-1/2 hour Daubert hearing in January 2011, was grilled for much of the time over his experience as an "artist." (The Daubert standard is a rule of evidence regarding the admissibility of expert witnesses' testimony during federal proceedings.)

Isaacs, a self-described filmmaker in the Postmodernism "Shock Art" style, has commercially worked as a graphic artist creating coupon mailers for cleaners and pizza parlor.  

At the hearing, Isaacs, among numerous responses, said that he has been published as an artist and has planned installations of his works.

"I have shown my work on the Internet; it's been discussed," he testified. "People  have blogged about it; people have talked about it."

The Isaacs trial at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has already gotten underway with juror selection, which  continues Wednesday.