In the early obscenity cases, the Supreme Court was said to have spent a fair amount of time studying pornographic films in its private theater.

In the early obscenity cases, the Supreme Court was said to have spent a fair amount of time "studying" pornographic films in its private theater.

Many law students have heard of “Movie Day at the Court” and Justice Potter Stewart’s famous line made during the first big wave of pornography of the 1960s: “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . .”  Even more popular is Woody Harrelson’s depiction of Hustler publisher/editor Larry Flynt in The People vs. Larry Flynt.  But in recent years, the battle over the regulation of pornography has received less attention.  The government’s treatment and enforcement of federal obscenity law has waxed and waned over the years since Roth v. United States, when the United States Supreme Court constructed its first legal definition of obscenity.  Prosecutorial discretion and the directives of the administration in power are the major contributing factors.  While the Clinton administration was rather lax in its treatment of obscenity, the end of the Bush era was marked by some major cases that could lay the groundwork for future obscenity prosecutions under the Obama administration.

Don’t miss The 2008 Federal Obscenity Conviction of Paul Little and What It Reveals About Obscenity Law and Prosecutions in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law’s Spring 2009 edition (Vol. 11, No. 3).  The Abstract for the Article by Professors Richards and Calvert follows:

This Article provides an inside perspective on the 2008 obscenity trial and conviction of veteran adult movie producer Paul Little, who is known in the adult industry as Max Hardcore.  Little was sentenced by a federal judge to nearly four years in prison after a twelve-person jury in Tampa, Florida found him guilty of multiple counts of selling and distributing obscene content via the U.S. Mail and Internet.

The Article centers around comments and remarks drawn from four exclusive interviews conducted in person by the authors with: (1) Jeffrey Douglas, the California-based attorney who represented and defended Paul Little in United States v. Little; (2) H. Louis Sirkin, the Ohio-based attorney who represented and defended the corporate entities controlled by Paul Little in United States v. Little; (3) Mark Kernes, Senior Editor of Adult Video News, a leading adult entertainment industry trade publication, and the journalist who covered the trial of Paul Little; and (4) Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine and head of the LFP, Inc. adult entertainment empire.  Each interview was conducted subsequent to Paul Little’s June 2008 conviction by the jury in Tampa but prior to his sentencing in October 2008.  The Article contextualizes the case within the framework of the Bush administration’s efforts to target adult content for obscenity prosecutions.

Article Authors: Robert D. Richards and Clay Calvert

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7 Responses to The 2008 Federal Obscenity Conviction of Paul Little and What It Reveals About Obscenity Law and Prosecutions

  1. Henry says:

    Why did Bush/Cheney only pursue 1 person for producing “obscene” porn.
    Surely a select jury in Alabama would find other types of pornography obscene.
    Why was only 1 Porn Producer singled out,
    to test the public’s view on Obscenity?
    Isn’t this harassment or victimization?

  2. Tax Reasons says:

    Paul Little was sent to jail because he wasn’t paying enough taxes and “taxes” to the proper people. Power, extreme power. If they want you, Uncle Sam will get you.

  3. The Devils Advocate says:

    After actually reviewing the videos of Paul Little, I can say this man deserves to go to prison. In one of his skits he actually suffocated a girl. When she pleaded that she couldn’t breath he repeated to suffocate her and smack her across the face. Now I’ve watched many pornographic films. But this was not like any I’ve ever seen. Seeing the suffocating girl kicking her legs in the air to breath was enough for me to say that he actually should have a longer sentence. he had continued, she would have died

  4. Fiona says:

    “But Paul Little goes to jail. What a sick joke.”

    True, it’s not a joke!

  5. King Ralph says:

    It’s not surprising that the Bush administration went after this guy. Bush & Cheney are total hypocrites and 2 of the biggest pornographers around. First they lied about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction, then they started a war with Iraq based on those lies and subsequently killed tens of thousands of innocent people in the process, their business cronies profited to the tune of billions from the war, they had secret prisons around the world where people were tortured and then they destroyed the tapes of the ‘interrogations’. But Paul Little goes to jail. What a sick joke.

  6. Jzzr says:

    It’s called acting, there’s a script and everything. It’s not as if he picked her up off the street and raped her. Which by the way, would of net him less of a sentence. It’s people like you that ruin the social and sexual freedoms for others.

  7. Ralph- How you can manage to tie an obscenity charge to the war in Iraq is beyond me. And, before you start spouting [redacted] that you read somewhere else and are just vomiting up, listen: First, answer this question. Have you ever been to Iraq? My proposed answer for you to that is “No, but I know what is going on, I was against the war from the start and-” that is where I would tell you to just stop, stop talking. I spent a year (actually two) of my life in that country; I was there for the invasion, the entire first year. I have worked there off and on since. Do I agree with the war? Nope, never did, not even on the weapons of mass destruction caveat. But I did my duty, right? And I can tell you that, at that time, we did not kill “tens of thousands of innocent people.” We actually stopped every (it seems now) 10 feet to make sure that those armed combatants we DID fight and kill were buried, within the day, facing Mecca. Sorry that doesn’t jive in your world. It was a big hassle at the time but hey, who cares? We are all giant asshats, right?

    Get your facts straight, think for yourself for about 10 seconds, stop being spoon fed beliefs. It’s ridiculous. People like you and ideology like yours are a serious issue. And PS, the destruction of those “tapes” (and I would like to point out that, listen people, if you still think anyone in the government is keeping something on tape, you sound like an [redacted]) was a matter of course. It happens all the time. Please, PLEASE continue to conspiracy-theory the hell out of everything and indict/convict those very people who are working 12 to 13 hours a day (if they haven’t quit yet) just to ensure that you can be so obtuse without fear of retribution or getting “disappeared” by an autocratic regime. Please, in short, continue to spout your unfounded b.s.

    That is all.