Obenberger: U.S. Hasn't Complied With 2257 Provisions

Rhett Pardon

CHICAGO — Adult industry attorney Joe Obenberger says that it's evident that the Justice Department is breaking provisions of the federal recordkeeping requirements for adult producers.

Obenberger told XBIZ that the Justice Department has responded to several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking access to mandatory annual reports concerning the enforcement of 18 U.S.C. § 2257 and that he's been told by the Justice Department that a search fails to locate any records after an initial report in April 2004.

That's a problem for Obenberger because 18 U.S.C. § 2257A specifically includes a section that was written to make the federal government's efforts involving 2257 transparent.

"It appears they stopped with the reports after the first one in 2004," Obenberger says. "So here's the Justice Department talking out of both sides of the mouth — making adult producers comply with the rules when they don't comply themselves."

According to Section K of 2257A, "On an annual basis, the Attorney General shall submit a report to Congress concerning the enforcement of this section and Section 2257 by the Department of Justice during the previous 12-month period; and including the number of inspections undertaken pursuant to this section and Section 2257; the number of open investigations pursuant to this section and Section 2257; the number of cases in which a person has been charged with a violation of this section and Section 2257; and for each case listed in response ...  the name of the lead defendant, the federal district in which the case was brought, the court tracking number and a synopsis of the violation and its disposition, if any, including settlements, sentences, recoveries and penalties."

Obenberger made FOIA requests twice — first with the Justice Department's central database in July 2012, then again with the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section where he was directed.

Last month, he received word from the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section that there were no records of congressionally mandated annual reports relative to 2257 in existence past 2004.

While detailed 2257 reports apparently haven't been produced and sent to Congress or even made public, some details involving recordkeeping inspections are surfacing.

Last week, the government released exhibits revealing details of 29 inspections conducted between July 24, 2006, and Sept. 19, 2007.

Those exhibits, made publicly available for the first time, were introduced as evidence by the government, which is defending against the legality of the statute in a suit initiated by the Free Speech Coalition and other defendants. Trial is set to begin in the case on June 3 in Philadelphia federal court.

View FOIA correspondence between attorney Joe Obenberger, Justice Department